Process for the production of biopolimers using agroindustrial waste

Valorisation of agro-industrial waste through the production of biopolymers: an alternative to biogas production with potential economic feasibility. The application of a simple and economical step allows bioplastics by conventional fermentation.

Title of the patent Processo per la produzione di acidi carbossilici da sottoprodotti agroindustriali, e loro impieghi.
Thematic area Agro-food
Ownership Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna
Inventors Lorenzo Bertin, Gonzalo Agustìn Martinez
Protection Italy (opportunity for seeking international patent protection)
Licensing status Available for licensing agreements
Keywords carboxylic acids; agrowaste; anaerobic fermentation; membrane separation; evaporation
Filed on Sep 03, 2018

Currently, the industrial PHA is produced using high-cost matrices as feedstock (eg: glucose) and through selected bacterial monocultures (eg: Cupriavidus necator, Pseudomonas putida). The result is a high final price (around 6 € / kg) for conventional applications in the present if using fossil plastic (cost <1 € / kg, eg PE, PP). However, in addition to conventional applications, PHAs have different potentials in bio-adhesive, biomedicine and other special applications (where higher prices are acceptable). That is why the cost of the feedstock is the most critical factor for the commercial feasibility of the whole PHA family.

In order to reduce the costs of the substrates, the use of agro-industrial by-products that may have included a cost of disposal is an opportunity. In recent years, numerous scientific studies have focused attention on the valorization of agro-industrial waste through various procedures, in this case the production of organic acids results of interest. But not all proposals are economically feasible, mainly due to the low final concentration and high costs of separation. This invention proposes the valorization of waste by the targeted production of certain organic acids, coupled with a simple and economic separation, which allows obtaining an economic-alternative composition for the production of biopolymers of the family of PHA.

The integrated process can be applied wherever an agroindustrial byproduct (such as vegetable and/or fruits byproducts, grape pomace, cheese whey, among others) pretends to be valorised through the production of carboxylic acids or biopolymers.