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Butanol production from food waste: A novel process for producing sustainable energy and reducing environmental pollution

Haibo Huang, Vijay Singh, Nasib Qureshi
Biotechnology for biofuels 2015 v.8 no. pp. 1-12
Clostridium beijerinckii, butanol, culture media, energy, environmental sustainability, fermentation, food waste, fuels, glucose, pollution, pollution control, renewable energy sources, systems engineering
Efficient utilization of food waste for fuel and chemical production can positively influence both the energy and environmental sustainability. In these studies we investigated use of food waste to produce butanol by Clostridium beijerinckii P260. In control fermentation, 40.5 g/L of glucose (initial glucose 56.7 g/L) was used to produce 14.2 g/L of ABE with a fermentation productivity and a yield of 0.22 g/L/h and 0.35, respectively. In a similar fermentation 81 g/L of food waste (containing equivalent glucose of 60.1 g/L) was used as substrate, and the culture produced 18.9 g/L ABE with a high ABE productivity of 0.46 g/L/h and a yield of 0.38. Fermentation of food waste at higher concentrations (129, 181 and 228 g/L) did not remarkably increase ABE production but resulted in high residual glucose due to the culture butanol inhibition. An integrated vacuum stripping system was designed and applied to recover butanol from the fermentation broth simultaneously to relieve the culture butanol inhibition, thereby allowing the fermentation of food waste at high concentrations. ABE fermentation integrated with vacuum stripping successfully recovered the ABE from the fermentation broth and controlled the ABE concentrations below 10 g/L during fermentation when 129 g/L food waste was used. The ABE productivity with vacuum fermentation was 0.49 g/L/h, which was 109% higher than the control fermentation (glucose based). More importantly, ABE vacuum recovery and fermentation allowed near complete utilization of the sugars (~98%) in the broth.