Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 15

Search results for: Polyhydroxybutyrate

15 Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB): Highly Porous Scaffold for Biomedicine

Authors: Neda Sinaei, Davood Zare, Mehrdad Azin


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biocompatible and biodegradable polymers produced by a wide range of bacterial strains. These biopolymers are significantly studied for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications because of their fascinating physicochemical properties. Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) scaffold that has been extracted from a novel bacteria using oil wastewater was selected to study. Some physical parameters affecting scaffold properties such as PHB concentration, solvent evaporation speed, and ultrasonic time were investigated. Scanning electron microscopy was used to evaluate the porosity. Afterward, the biocompatibility of PHB scaffold was assessed. Initial results showed the highly porous PHB scaffold structure with a variety of pore sizes. Subsequent results indicated that more unique pore sizes can be obtained by optimizing physical factors. It would be noticed that the morphology of the pore structure was accordingly affected by ultrasonic time. Hence, In vitro cell viability tests on the PHB scaffold using human foreskin fibroblasts revealed strong cell attachment and proliferation supports. Therefore, it can be concluded that the cost-effective PHB scaffold has the potential using as a biomaterial cell adhesion substrate in therapeutic applications.

Keywords: Polyhydroxybutyrate, biocompatible, scaffold, porous, tissue engineering

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14 Development of a Wound Dressing Material Based on Microbial Polyhydroxybutyrate Electrospun Microfibers Containing Curcumin

Authors: Ariel Vilchez, Francisca Acevedo, Rodrigo Navia


The wound healing process can be accelerated and improved by the action of antioxidants such as curcumin (Cur) over the tissues; however, the efficacy of curcumin used through the digestive system is not enough to exploit its benefits. Electrospinning presents an alternative to carry curcumin directly to the wounds, and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is proposed as the matrix to load curcumin owing to its biodegradable and biocompatible properties. PHB is among 150 types of Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) identified, it is a natural thermoplastic polyester produced by microbial fermentation obtained from microorganisms. The proposed objective is to develop electrospun bacterial PHB-based microfibers containing curcumin for possible biomedical applications. Commercial PHB was solved in Chloroform: Dimethylformamide (4:1) to a final concentration of 7% m/V. Curcumin was added to the polymeric solution at 1%, and 7% m/m regarding PHB. The electrospinning equipment (NEU-BM, China) with a rotary collector was used to obtain Cur-PHB fibers at different voltages and flow rate of the polymeric solution considering a distance of 20 cm from the needle to the collector. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to determine the diameter and morphology of the obtained fibers. Thermal stability was obtained from Thermogravimetric (TGA) analysis, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) was carried out in order to study the chemical bonds and interactions. A preliminary curcumin release to Phosphate Buffer Saline (PBS) pH = 7.4 was obtained in vitro and measured by spectrophotometry. PHB fibers presented an intact chemical composition regarding the original condition (dust) according to FTIR spectra, the diameter fluctuates between 0.761 ± 0.123 and 2.157 ± 0.882 μm, with different qualities according to their morphology. The best fibers in terms of quality and diameter resulted in sample 2 and sample 6, obtained at 0-10kV and 0.5 mL/hr, and 0-10kV and 1.5 mL/hr, respectively. The melting temperature resulted near 178 °C, according to the bibliography. The crystallinity of fibers decreases while curcumin concentration increases for the studied interval. The curcumin release reaches near 14% at 37 °C at 54h in PBS adjusted to a quasi-Fickian Diffusion. We conclude that it is possible to load curcumin in PHB to obtain continuous, homogeneous, and solvent-free microfibers by electrospinning. Between 0% and 7% of curcumin, the crystallinity of fibers decreases as the concentration of curcumin increases. Thus, curcumin enhances the flexibility of the obtained material. HPLC should be used in further analysis of curcumin release.

Keywords: antioxidant, curcumin, polyhydroxybutyrate, wound healing

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13 Polyhydroxybutyrate Production in Bacteria Isolated from Estuaries along the Eastern Coast of India

Authors: Shubhashree Mahalik, Dhanesh Kumar, Jatin Kumar Pradhan


Odisha is one of the coastal states situated on the eastern part of India with 480 km long coastline. The coastal Odisha is referred to as "Gift of Six Rivers". Balasore, a major coastal district of Odisha is bounded by Bay of Bengal in the East having 26 km long seashore. It is lined with several estuaries rich in biodiversity.Several studies have been carried out on the macro flora and fauna of this area but very few documented information are available regarding microbial biodiversity. In the present study, an attempt has been made to isolate and identify bacteria found along the estuaries of Balasore.Many marine microorganisms are sources of natural products which makes them potential industrial organisms. So the ability of the isolated bacteria to secrete one such industrially significant product, PHB (Polyhydroxybutyrate) has been elucidated. Several rounds of sampling, pure culture, morphological, biochemical and phylogenetic screening led to the identification of two PHB producing strains. Isolate 5 was identified to be Brevibacillus sp. and has maximum similarity to Brevibacillus parabrevis (KX83268). The isolate was named as Brevibacillus sp.KEI-5. Isolate 8 was identified asLysinibacillus sp. having closest similarity withLysinibacillus boroni-tolerance (KP314269) and named as Lysinibacillus sp. KEI-8.Media, temperature, carbon, nitrogen and salinity requirement were optimized for both isolates. Submerged fermentation of both isolates in Terrific Broth media supplemented with optimized carbon and nitrogen source at 37°C led to significant accumulation of PHB as detected by colorimetric method.

Keywords: Bacillus, estuary, marine, Odisha, polyhydroxy butyrate

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12 Instrumental Characterization of Cyanobacteria as Polyhydroxybutyrate Producer

Authors: Eva Slaninova, Diana Cernayova, Zuzana Sedrlova, Katerina Mrazova, Petr Sedlacek, Jana Nebesarova, Stanislav Obruca


Cyanobacteria are gram-negative prokaryotes belonging to a group of photosynthetic bacteria. In comparison with heterotrophic microorganisms, cyanobacteria utilize atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide without any additional substrates. This ability of these microorganisms could be employed in biotechnology for the production of bioplastics, concretely polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) which are primarily accumulated as a storage material in cells in the form of intracellular granules. In this study, there two cyanobacterial cultures from genera Synechocystis were used, namely Synechocystic sp. PCC 6803 and Synechocystis salina CCALA 192. There were optimized and used several various approaches, including microscopic techniques such as cryo-scanning electron microscopy (Cryo-SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy using Nile red as a fluorescent probe (FLIM). Due to these instrumental techniques, the morphology of intracellular space and surface of cells were characterized. The next group of methods which were employed was spectroscopic techniques such as UV-Vis spectroscopy measured in two modes (turbidimetry and integration sphere) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). All these diverse techniques were used for the detection and characterization of pigments (chlorophylls, carotenoids, phycocyanin, etc.) and PHAs, in our case poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) (P3HB). To verify results, gas chromatography (GC) was employed concretely for the determination of the amount of P3HB in biomass. Cyanobacteria were also characterized as polyhydroxybutyrate producers by flow cytometer, which could count cells and at the same time distinguish cells including P3HB and without due to fluorescent probe called BODIPY and live/dead fluorescent probe SYTO Blue. Based on results, P3HB content in cyanobacteria cells was determined, as also the overall fitness of the cells. Acknowledgment: Funding: This study was partly funded by the projectGA19-29651L of the Czech Science Foundation (GACR) and partly funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project I 4082-B25.

Keywords: cyanobacteria, fluorescent probe, microscopic techniques, poly(3hydroxybutyrate), spectroscopy, chromatography

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11 High Strength, High Toughness Polyhydroxybutyrate-Co-Valerate Based Biocomposites

Authors: S. Z. A. Zaidi, A. Crosky


Biocomposites is a field that has gained much scientific attention due to the current substantial consumption of non-renewable resources and the environmentally harmful disposal methods required for traditional polymer composites. Research on natural fiber reinforced polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) has gained considerable momentum over the past decade. There is little work on PHAs reinforced with unidirectional (UD) natural fibers and little work on using epoxidized natural rubber (ENR) as a toughening agent for PHA-based biocomposites. In this work, we prepared polyhydroxybutyrate-co-valerate (PHBV) biocomposites reinforced with UD 30 wt.% flax fibers and evaluated the use of ENR with 50% epoxidation (ENR50) as a toughening agent for PHBV biocomposites. Quasi-unidirectional flax/PHBV composites were prepared by hand layup, powder impregnation followed by compression molding.  Toughening agents – polybutylene adiphate-co-terephthalate (PBAT) and ENR50 – were cryogenically ground into powder and mechanically mixed with main matrix PHBV to maintain the powder impregnation process. The tensile, flexural and impact properties of the biocomposites were measured and morphology of the composites examined using optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The UD biocomposites showed exceptionally high mechanical properties as compared to the results obtained previously where only short fibers have been used. The improved tensile and flexural properties were attributed to the continuous nature of the fiber reinforcement and the increased proportion of fibers in the loading direction. The improved impact properties were attributed to a larger surface area for fiber-matrix debonding and for subsequent sliding and fiber pull-out mechanisms to act on, allowing more energy to be absorbed. Coating cryogenically ground ENR50 particles with PHBV powder successfully inhibits the self-healing nature of ENR-50, preventing particles from coalescing and overcoming problems in mechanical mixing, compounding and molding. Cryogenic grinding, followed by powder impregnation and subsequent compression molding is an effective route to the production of high-mechanical-property biocomposites based on renewable resources for high-obsolescence applications such as plastic casings for consumer electronics.

Keywords: natural fibers, natural rubber, polyhydroxyalkanoates, unidirectional

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10 Production of Poly-β-Hydroxybutyrate (PHB) by a Thermophilic Strain of Bacillus and Pseudomonas Species

Authors: Patience Orobosa Olajide


Five hydrocarbon degrading bacterial strains isolated from contaminated environment were investigated with respect to polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) biosynthesis. Screening for bioplastic production was done on assay mineral salts agar medium containing 0.2% poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) as the sole carbon source. Two of the test bacteria were positive for PHB biosynthesis and were identified based on gram staining, biochemical tests, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus licheniformis which grew at 37 and up to 65 °C respectively, thus suggesting the later to be thermotolerant. In this study, the effects of different carbon and nitrogen sources on PHB production in these strains were investigated. Maximum PHB production was obtained in 48 hr for the two strains and amounted to yields of 72.86 and 62.22 percentages for Bacillus licheniformis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa respectively. In these strains, glycine was the most efficient carbon sources for the production of PHB compared with other carbon (glucose, lactose, sucrose, Arabinose) and nitrogen (L- glycine, L-cysteine, DL-Tryptophan, and Potassium Nitrate) sources. The screening of microbial strains for industrial PHB production should be based on several factors including the cell’s capability to mineralize an inexpensive substrate, rate of growth and the extent of polymer accumulation.

Keywords: bacteria, poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), hydrocarbon, thermotolerant

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9 Optimization of Poly-β-Hydroxybutyrate Recovery from Bacillus Subtilis Using Solvent Extraction Process by Response Surface Methodology

Authors: Jayprakash Yadav, Nivedita Patra


Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is an interesting material in the field of medical science, pharmaceutical industries, and tissue engineering because of its properties such as biodegradability, biocompatibility, hydrophobicity, and elasticity. PHB is naturally accumulated by several microbes in their cytoplasm during the metabolic process as energy reserve material. PHB can be extracted from cell biomass using halogenated hydrocarbons, chemicals, and enzymes. In this study, a cheaper and non-toxic solvent, acetone, was used for the extraction process. The different parameters like acetone percentage, and solvent pH, process temperature, and incubation periods were optimized using the Response Surface Methodology (RSM). RSM was performed and the determination coefficient (R2) value was found to be 0.8833 from the quadratic regression model with no significant lack of fit. The designed RSM model results indicated that the fitness of the response variable was significant (P-value < 0.0006) and satisfactory to denote the relationship between the responses in terms of PHB recovery and purity with respect to the values of independent variables. Optimum conditions for the maximum PHB recovery and purity were found to be solvent pH 7, extraction temperature - 43 °C, incubation time - 70 minutes, and percentage acetone – 30 % from this study. The maximum predicted PHB recovery was found to be 0.845 g/g biomass dry cell weight and the purity was found to be 97.23 % using the optimized conditions.

Keywords: acetone, PHB, RSM, halogenated hydrocarbons, extraction, bacillus subtilis.

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8 Large Scale Production of Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) from Waste Water: A Study of Techno-Economics, Energy Use, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Authors: Cora Fernandez Dacosta, John A. Posada, Andrea Ramirez


The biodegradable family of polymers polyhydroxyalkanoates are interesting substitutes for convectional fossil-based plastics. However, the manufacturing and environmental impacts associated with their production via intracellular bacterial fermentation are strongly dependent on the raw material used and on energy consumption during the extraction process, limiting their potential for commercialization. Industrial wastewater is studied in this paper as a promising alternative feedstock for waste valorization. Based on results from laboratory and pilot-scale experiments, a conceptual process design, techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment are developed for the large-scale production of the most common type of polyhydroxyalkanoate, polyhydroxbutyrate. Intracellular polyhydroxybutyrate is obtained via fermentation of microbial community present in industrial wastewater and the downstream processing is based on chemical digestion with surfactant and hypochlorite. The economic potential and environmental performance results help identifying bottlenecks and best opportunities to scale-up the process prior to industrial implementation. The outcome of this research indicates that the fermentation of wastewater towards PHB presents advantages compared to traditional PHAs production from sugars because the null environmental burdens and financial costs of the raw material in the bioplastic production process. Nevertheless, process optimization is still required to compete with the petrochemicals counterparts.

Keywords: circular economy, life cycle assessment, polyhydroxyalkanoates, waste valorization

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7 Co-Synthesis of Exopolysaccharides and Polyhydroxyalkanoates Using Waste Streams: Solid-State Fermentation as an Alternative Approach

Authors: Laura Mejias, Sandra Monteagudo, Oscar Martinez-Avila, Sergio Ponsa


Bioplastics are gaining attention as potential substitutes of conventional fossil-derived plastics and new components of specialized applications in different industries. Besides, these constitute a sustainable alternative since they are biodegradable and can be obtained starting from renewable sources. Thus, agro-industrial wastes appear as potential substrates for bioplastics production using microorganisms, considering they are a suitable source for nutrients, low-cost, and available worldwide. Therefore, this approach contributes to the biorefinery and circular economy paradigm. The present study assesses the solid-state fermentation (SSF) technology for the co-synthesis of exopolysaccharides (EPS) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), two attractive biodegradable bioplastics, using the leftover of the brewery industry brewer's spent grain (BSG). After an initial screening of diverse PHA-producer bacteria, it was found that Burkholderia cepacia presented the highest EPS and PHA production potential via SSF of BSG. Thus, B. cepacia served to identify the most relevant aspects affecting the EPS+PHA co-synthesis at a lab-scale (100g). Since these are growth-dependent processes, they were monitored online through oxygen consumption using a dynamic respirometric system, but also quantifying the biomass production (gravimetric) and the obtained products (EtOH precipitation for EPS and solid-liquid extraction coupled with GC-FID for PHA). Results showed that B. cepacia has grown up to 81 mg per gram of dry BSG (gDM) at 30°C after 96 h, representing up to 618 times higher than the other tested strains' findings. Hence, the crude EPS production was 53 mg g-1DM (2% carbohydrates), but purity reached 98% after a dialysis purification step. Simultaneously, B. cepacia accumulated up to 36% (dry basis) of the produced biomass as PHA, mainly composed of polyhydroxybutyrate (P3HB). The maximum PHA production was reached after 48 h with 12.1 mg g⁻¹DM, representing threefold the levels previously reported using SSF. Moisture content and aeration strategy resulted in the most significant variables affecting the simultaneous production. Results show the potential of co-synthesis via SSF as an attractive alternative to enhance bioprocess feasibility for obtaining these bioplastics in residue-based systems.

Keywords: bioplastics, brewer’s spent grain, circular economy, solid-state fermentation, waste to product

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6 Submicron Laser-Induced Dot, Ripple and Wrinkle Structures and Their Applications

Authors: P. Slepicka, N. Slepickova Kasalkova, I. Michaljanicova, O. Nedela, Z. Kolska, V. Svorcik


Polymers exposed to laser or plasma treatment or modified with different wet methods which enable the introduction of nanoparticles or biologically active species, such as amino-acids, may find many applications both as biocompatible or anti-bacterial materials or on the contrary, can be applied for a decrease in the number of cells on the treated surface which opens application in single cell units. For the experiments, two types of materials were chosen, a representative of non-biodegradable polymers, polyethersulphone (PES) and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) as biodegradable material. Exposure of solid substrate to laser well below the ablation threshold can lead to formation of various surface structures. The ripples have a period roughly comparable to the wavelength of the incident laser radiation, and their dimensions depend on many factors, such as chemical composition of the polymer substrate, laser wavelength and the angle of incidence. On the contrary, biopolymers may significantly change their surface roughness and thus influence cell compatibility. The focus was on the surface treatment of PES and PHB by pulse excimer KrF laser with wavelength of 248 nm. The changes of physicochemical properties, surface morphology, surface chemistry and ablation of exposed polymers were studied both for PES and PHB. Several analytical methods involving atomic force microscopy, gravimetry, scanning electron microscopy and others were used for the analysis of the treated surface. It was found that the combination of certain input parameters leads not only to the formation of optimal narrow pattern, but to the combination of a ripple and a wrinkle-like structure, which could be an optimal candidate for cell attachment. The interaction of different types of cells and their interactions with the laser exposed surface were studied. It was found that laser treatment contributes as a major factor for wettability/contact angle change. The combination of optimal laser energy and pulse number was used for the construction of a surface with an anti-cellular response. Due to the simple laser treatment, we were able to prepare a biopolymer surface with higher roughness and thus significantly influence the area of growth of different types of cells (U-2 OS cells).

Keywords: cell response, excimer laser, polymer treatment, periodic pattern, surface morphology

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5 Detection and Molecular Identification of Bacteria Forming Polyhydroxyalkanoate and Polyhydroxybutyrate Isolated from Soil in Saudi Arabia

Authors: Ali Bahkali, Rayan Yousef Booq, Mohammad Khiyami


Soil samples were collected from five different regions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Microbiological methods included dilution methods and pour plates to isolate and purify bacteria soil. The ability of isolates to develop biopolymer was investigated on petri dishes containing elements and substance concentrations stimulating developing biopolymer. Fluorescent stains, Nile red and Nile blue were used to stain the bacterial cells developing biopolymers. In addition, Sudan black was used to detect biopolymers in bacterial cells. The isolates which developed biopolymers were identified based on their gene sequence of 1 6sRNA and their ability to grow and synthesize PHAs on mineral medium supplemented with 1% dates molasses as the only carbon source under nitrogen limitation. During the study 293 bacterial isolates were isolated and detected. Through the initial survey on the petri dishes, 84 isolates showed the ability to develop biopolymers. These bacterial colonies developed a pink color due to accumulation of the biopolymers in the cells. Twenty-three isolates were able to grow on dates molasses, three strains of which showed the ability to accumulate biopolymers. These strains included Bacillus sp., Ralstonia sp. and Microbacterium sp. They were detected by Nile blue A stain with fluorescence microscopy (OLYMPUS IX 51). Among the isolated strains Ralstonia sp. was selected after its ability to grow on molasses dates in the presence of a limited nitrogen source was detected. The optimum conditions for formation of biopolymers by isolated strains were investigated. Conditions studied included, best incubation duration (2 days), temperature (30°C) and pH (7-8). The maximum PHB production was raised by 1% (v1v) when using concentrations of dates molasses 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5% in MSM. The best inoculated with 1% old inoculum (1= OD). The ideal extraction method of PHA and PHB proved to be 0.4% sodium hypochlorite solution, producing a quantity of polymer 98.79% of the cell's dry weight. The maximum PHB production was 1.79 g/L recorded by Ralstonia sp. after 48 h, while it was 1.40 g/L produced by R.eutropha ATCC 17697 after 48 h.

Keywords: bacteria forming polyhydroxyalkanoate, detection, molecular, Saudi Arabia

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4 Redirecting Photosynthetic Electron Flux in the Engineered Cyanobacterium synechocystis Sp. Pcc 6803 by the Deletion of Flavodiiron Protein Flv3

Authors: K. Thiel, P. Patrikainen, C. Nagy, D. Fitzpatrick, E.-M. Aro, P. Kallio


Photosynthetic cyanobacteria have been recognized as potential future biotechnological hosts for the direct conversion of CO₂ into chemicals of interest using sunlight as the solar energy source. However, in order to develop commercially viable systems, the flux of electrons from the photosynthetic light reactions towards specified target chemicals must be significantly improved. The objective of the study was to investigate whether the autotrophic production efficiency of specified end-metabolites can be improved in engineered cyanobacterial cells by rescuing excited electrons that are normally lost to molecular oxygen due to the cyanobacterial flavodiiron protein Flv1/3. Natively Flv1/3 dissipates excess electrons in the photosynthetic electron transfer chain by directing them to molecular oxygen in Mehler-like reaction to protect photosystem I. To evaluate the effect of flavodiiron inactivation on autotrophic production efficiency in the cyanobacterial host Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 (Synechocystis), sucrose was selected as the quantitative reporter and a representative of a potential end-product of interest. The concept is based on the native property of Synechocystis to produce sucrose as an intracellular osmoprotectant when exposed to high external ion concentrations, in combination with the introduction of a heterologous sucrose permease (CscB from Escherichia coli), which transports the sucrose out from the cell. In addition, cell growth, photosynthetic gas fluxes using membrane inlet mass spectrometry and endogenous storage compounds were analysed to illustrate the consequent effects of flv deletion on pathway flux distributions. The results indicate that a significant proportion of the electrons can be lost to molecular oxygen via Flv1/3 even when the cells are grown under high CO₂ and that the inactivation of flavodiiron activity can enhance the photosynthetic electron flux towards optionally available sinks. The flux distribution is dependent on the light conditions and the genetic context of the Δflv mutants, and favors the production of either sucrose or one of the two storage compounds, glycogen or polyhydroxybutyrate. As a conclusion, elimination of the native Flv1/3 reaction and concomitant introduction of an engineered product pathway as an alternative sink for excited electrons could enhance the photosynthetic electron flux towards the target endproduct without compromising the fitness of the host.

Keywords: cyanobacterial engineering, flavodiiron proteins, redirecting electron flux, sucrose

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3 A Green Process for Drop-In Liquid Fuels from Carbon Dioxide, Water, and Solar Energy

Authors: Jian Yu


Carbo dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel combustion is a prime green-house gas emission. It can be mitigated by microalgae through conventional photosynthesis. The algal oil is a feedstock of biodiesel, a carbon neutral liquid fuel for transportation. The conventional CO2 fixation, however, is quite slow and affected by the intermittent solar irradiation. It is also a technical challenge to reform the bio-oil into a drop-in liquid fuel that can be directly used in the modern combustion engines with expected performance. Here, an artificial photosynthesis system is presented to produce a biopolyester and liquid fuels from CO2, water, and solar power. In this green process, solar energy is captured using photovoltaic modules and converted into hydrogen as a stable energy source via water electrolysis. The solar hydrogen is then used to fix CO2 by Cupriavidus necator, a hydrogen-oxidizing bacterium. Under the autotrophic conditions, CO2 was reduced to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) that is further utilized for cell growth and biosynthesis of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). The maximum cell growth rate reached 10.1 g L-1 day-1, about 25 times faster than that of a typical bio-oil-producing microalga (Neochloris Oleoabundans) under stable indoor conditions. With nitrogen nutrient limitation, a large portion of the reduced carbon is stored in PHB (C4H6O2)n, accounting for 50-60% of dry cell mass. PHB is a biodegradable thermoplastic that can find a variety of environmentally friendly applications. It is also a platform material from which small chemicals can be derived. At a high temperature (240 - 290 oC), the biopolyester is degraded into crotonic acid (C4H6O2). On a solid phosphoric acid catalyst, PHB is deoxygenated via decarboxylation into a hydrocarbon oil (C6-C18) at 240 oC or so. Aromatics and alkenes are the major compounds, depending on the reaction conditions. A gasoline-grade liquid fuel (77 wt% oil) and a biodiesel-grade fuel (23 wt% oil) were obtained from the hydrocarbon oil via distillation. The formation routes of hydrocarbon oil from crotonic acid, the major PHB degradation intermediate, are revealed and discussed. This work shows a novel green process from which biodegradable plastics and high-grade liquid fuels can be directly produced from carbon dioxide, water and solar power. The productivity of the green polyester (5.3 g L-1 d-1) is much higher than that of microalgal oil (0.13 g L-1 d-1). Other technical merits of the new green process may include continuous operation under intermittent solar irradiation and convenient scale up in outdoor.

Keywords: bioplastics, carbon dioxide fixation, drop-in liquid fuels, green process

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2 Polymer Matrices Based on Natural Compounds: Synthesis and Characterization

Authors: Sonia Kudlacik-Kramarczyk, Anna Drabczyk, Dagmara Malina, Bozena Tyliszczak, Agnieszka Sobczak-Kupiec


Introduction: In the preparation of polymer materials, compounds of natural origin are currently gaining more and more interest. This is particularly noticeable in the case of synthesis of materials considered for biomedical use. Then, selected material has to meet many requirements. It should be characterized by non-toxicity, biodegradability and biocompatibility. Therefore special attention is directed to substances such as polysaccharides, proteins or substances that are the basic building components of proteins, i.e. amino acids. These compounds may be crosslinked with other reagents that leads to the preparation of polymer matrices. Such amino acids as e.g. cysteine or histidine. On the other hand, previously mentioned requirements may be met by polymers obtained as a result of biosynthesis, e.g. polyhydroxybutyrate. This polymer belongs to the group of aliphatic polyesters that is synthesized by microorganisms (selected strain of bacteria) under specific conditions. It is possible to modify matrices based on given polymer with substances of various origin. Such a modification may result in the change of their properties or/and in providing the material with new features desirable in viewpoint of specific application. Described materials are synthesized using UV radiation. Process of photopolymerization is fast, waste-free and enables to obtain final products with favorable properties. Methodology: Polymer matrices have been prepared by means of photopolymerization. First step involved the preparation of solutions of particular reagents and mixing them in the appropriate ratio. Next, crosslinking agent and photoinitiator have been added to the reaction mixture and the whole was poured into the Petri dish and treated with UV radiation. After the synthesis, polymer samples were dried at room temperature and subjected to the numerous analyses aimed at the determining their physicochemical properties. Firstly, sorption properties of obtained polymer matrices have been determined. Next, mechanical properties have been characterized, i.e. tensile strength. The ability to deformation under applied stress of all prepared polymer matrices has been checked. Such a property is important in viewpoint of the application of analyzed materials e.g. as wound dressings. Wound dressings have to be elastic because depending on the location of the wound and its mobility, such a dressing has to adhere properly to the wound. Furthermore, considering the use of the materials for biomedical purposes it is essential to determine its behavior in environments simulating these ones occurring in human body. Therefore incubation studies using selected liquids have also been conducted. Conclusions: As a result of photopolymerization process, polymer matrices based on natural compounds have been prepared. These exhibited favorable mechanical properties and swelling ability. Moreover, biocompatibility in relation to simulated body fluids has been stated. Therefore it can be concluded that analyzed polymer matrices constitute an interesting materials that may be considered for biomedical use and may be subjected to the further more advanced analyses using specific cell lines.

Keywords: photopolymerization, polymer matrices, simulated body fluids, swelling properties

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1 Techno-Economic Assessments of Promising Chemicals from a Sugar Mill Based Biorefinery

Authors: Kathleen Frances Haigh, Mieke Nieder-Heitmann, Somayeh Farzad, Mohsen Ali Mandegari, Johann Ferdinand Gorgens


Lignocellulose can be converted to a range of biochemicals and biofuels. Where this is derived from agricultural waste, issues of competition with food are virtually eliminated. One such source of lignocellulose is the South African sugar industry. Lignocellulose could be accessed by changes to the current farming practices and investments in more efficient boilers. The South African sugar industry is struggling due to falling sugar prices and increasing costs and it is proposed that annexing a biorefinery to a sugar mill will broaden the product range and improve viability. Process simulations of the selected chemicals were generated using Aspen Plus®. It was envisaged that a biorefinery would be annexed to a typical South African sugar mill. Bagasse would be diverted from the existing boilers to the biorefinery and mixed with harvest residues. This biomass would provide the feedstock for the biorefinery and the process energy for the biorefinery and sugar mill. Thus, in all scenarios a portion of the biomass was diverted to a new efficient combined heat and power plant (CHP). The Aspen Plus® simulations provided the mass and energy balance data to carry out an economic assessment of each scenarios. The net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR) and minimum selling price (MSP) was calculated for each scenario. As a starting point scenarios were generated to investigate the production of ethanol, ethanol and lactic acid, ethanol and furfural, butanol, methanol, and Fischer-Tropsch syncrude. The bypass to the CHP plant is a useful indicator of the energy demands of the chemical processes. An iterative approach was used to identify a suitable bypass because increasing this value had the combined effect of increasing the amount of energy available and reducing the capacity of the chemical plant. Bypass values ranged from 30% for syncrude production to 50% for combined ethanol and furfural production. A hurdle rate of 15.7% was selected for the IRR. The butanol, combined ethanol and furfural, or the Fischer-Tropsch syncrude scenarios are unsuitable for investment with IRRs of 4.8%, 7.5% and 11.5% respectively. This provides valuable insights into research opportunities. For example furfural from sugarcane bagasse is an established process although the integration of furfural production with ethanol is less well understood. The IRR for the ethanol scenario was 14.7%, which is below the investment criteria, but given the technological maturity it may still be considered for investment. The scenarios which met the investment criteria were the combined ethanol and lactic acid, and the methanol scenarios with IRRs of 20.5% and 16.7%, respectively. These assessments show that the production of biochemicals from lignocellulose can be commercially viable. In addition, this assessment have provided valuable insights for research to improve the commercial viability of additional chemicals and scenarios. This has led to further assessments of the production of itaconic acid, succinic acid, citric acid, xylitol, polyhydroxybutyrate, polyethylene, glucaric acid and glutamic acid.

Keywords: biorefineries, sugar mill, methanol, ethanol

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