Comparison of Different Strategies for Selection/Adaptation of Mixed Microbial Cultures Able to Ferment Crude Glycerol Derived from Second-Generation Biodiesel

Authors: C. Varrone, T. M. B. Heggeset, S. B. Le, T. Haugen, S. Markussen,
I. V. Skiadas, and H. N. Gavala
Type of publication: Article
Date: July 2015
Journal: BioMed Research International
Main partner: Aalborg University and SINTEF

Abstract: Objective of this study was the selection and adaptation of mixed microbial cultures (MMCs), able to ferment crude glycerol generated from animal fat-based biodiesel and produce building-blocks and green chemicals. Various adaptation strategies have been investigated for the enrichment of suitable and stable MMC, trying to overcome inhibition problems and enhance substrate degradation efficiency, as well as generation of soluble fermentation products. Repeated transfers in small batches and fed-batch conditions have been applied, comparing the use of different inoculum, growth media, and Kinetic Control. The adaptation of activated sludge inoculum was performed successfully and continued unhindered for several months. The best results showed a substrate degradation efficiency of almost 100% (about 10 g/L glycerol in 21 h) and different dominant metabolic products were obtained, depending on the selection strategy (mainly 1,3-propanediol, ethanol, or butyrate). On the other hand, anaerobic sludge exhibited inactivation after a few transfers. To circumvent this problem, fed-batch mode was used as an alternative adaptation strategy, which led to effective substrate degradation and high 1,3-propanediol and butyrate production. Changes in microbial composition were monitored by means of Next Generation Sequencing, revealing a dominance of glycerol consuming species, such as Clostridium, Klebsiella, and Escherichia.

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