Optimization of polyhydroxybutyrate production by mixed cultures submitted to aerobic dynamic feeding conditions

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Activated sludge submitted to aerobic dynamic feeding conditions showed a good and stable capacity to store polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). The system, working for 2 years, selected a microbial population with a high PHB storage capacity. The influence of carbon and nitrogen concentrations on the PHB accumulation yield was studied in a range of 15-180 Cmmol/I for acetate and 0-2.8 Nmmol/I for ammonia. Low ammonia concentrations favored PHB accumulation. The maximum PHB content, 67.5%, was obtained for 180 Cmmol/I of acetate supplied in one pulse. However, such high substrate concentration proved to be inhibitory for the storage mechanism, causing a slowdown of the specific PHB storage rate. In order to avoid substrate inhibition, 180 Cmmol/I of acetate was supplied in different ways: continuously fed and in three pulses of 60 Cmmol/I each. In both cases the specific PHB storage rate increased and the PHB content obtained were 56.2% and 78.5%, respectively. The latter value of PHB content is similar to that obtained by pure cultures and was never reported for mixed cultures. Addition of acetate by pulses controlled by the oxygen concentration was kept for 16 days, the PHB content being always above 70% of cell dry weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2004


  • Activated sludge
  • Aerobic dynamic feeding
  • Kinetics
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Polyhydroxybutyrate
  • Sequencing batch reactor


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