Bio-oil upgrading strategies to improve PHA production from selected aerobic mixed cultures

Rita Moita Fidalgo, Joana Ortigueira, André Freches, João Pelica, Magarida Gonçalves, Benilde Mendes, Paulo C. Lemos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research on polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) has focused on developing cost-effective production processes using low-value or industrial waste/surplus as substrate. One of such substrates is the liquid fraction resulting from pyrolysis processes, bio-oil. In this study, valorisation of bio-oil through PHA production was investigated. The impact of the complex bio-oil matrix on PHA production by an enriched mixed culture was examined. The performance of the direct utilization of pure bio-oil was compared with the utilization of three defined substrates contained in this bio-oil: acetate, glucose and xylose. When compared with acetate, bio-oil revealed lower capacity for polymer production as a result of a lower polymer yield on substrate and a lower PHA cell content. Two strategies for bio-oil upgrade were performed, anaerobic fermentation and vacuum distillation, and the resulting liquid streams were tested for polymer production. The first one was enriched in volatile fatty acids and the second one mainly on phenolic and long-chain fatty acids. PHA accumulation assays using the upgraded bio-oils attained polymer yields on substrate similar or higher than the one achieved with acetate, although with a lower PHA content. The capacity to use the enriched fractions for polymer production has yet to be optimized. The anaerobic digestion of bio-oil could also open-up the possibility to use the fermented bio-oil directly in the enrichment process of the mixed culture. This would increase the selective pressure toward an optimized PHA accumulating culture selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-307
Number of pages11
JournalNew Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2014




Dive into the research topics of 'Bio-oil upgrading strategies to improve PHA production from selected aerobic mixed cultures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this