The impact of biomass withdrawal strategy on the biomass selection and polyhydroxyalkanoates accumulation of mixed microbial cultures

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Abstract

The production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) by mixed microbial cultures (MMC) has been studied as an alternative to pure cultures in order to reduce the price of PHA through use of open systems and low-cost substrates, such as agro-industrial sub-products. However, the widespread applicability of this process depends on the optimization of operational factors impacting PHA productivity. This study addresses the impact of biomass withdrawal strategy on the performance of MMC selection reactors and consequently on biomass productivity and global PHA productivity. Two selection reactors were operated in parallel under similar conditions, except for the timing of biomass withdrawal, at the end of the famine phase (Reactor 1, R1) versus at the end of the feast phase (Reactor 2, R2) at an organic loading rate of 100 Cmmol.L−1.d−1 and solids retention time of 4 days. The biomass selected in both conditions had similar PHA storing capacity as shown by the similar yields of PHA per substrate obtained in the accumulation assays; however, R1 reached a higher biomass productivity (about 4-fold higher than R2). This study demonstrated that removing the excess biomass at the end of the famine phase resulted in a much higher global PHA productivity and that the key parameter affecting the global PHA productivity of the 2-stage system was the volumetric biomass productivity. Results obtained provide important insight into how MMC systems can be best operated to maximize PHA productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalNew Biotechnology
Volume66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Biomass withdrawal
  • Bioplastics
  • Mixed microbial cultures (MMC)
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)
  • Process optimization
  • Sequencing batch reactors (SBR)

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