Development of sustainable microbial fermentation strategies for the production of medium-chain length polyhydroxyalkanoates (mcl-PHAs) from biodiesel derived glycerol
Bio-plastics have emerged as a promising alternative to conventional petrochemical derived plastics particularly over the past few decades. Numerous production methods for bio-plastics have been researched; however, work remains towards developing a commercially viable and economical process. The purpose of this research was to develop a sustainable fermentation strategy for production and scale-up of medium-chain length polyhydroxyalkanoates (mcl-PHAs), or bio-plastics, using a novel strain of the gram negative bacterium Pseudomonas putida, LS46, with biodiesel derived waste glycerol (WG) as feedstock. Experiments were conducted to gain a basic understanding of the general growth patterns exhibited by LS46. Thereafter, flask-batch experiments were conducted to study effects of variation in media conditions upon cell biomass production and mcl-PHA accumulation. Subsequently, optimal medium conditions observed within flasks were scaled-up and employed in the operation of a pilot-scale fermenter to increase production capacity for mcl-PHAs. It was concluded that mcl-PHA production at commercial levels could be viable with advanced process optimization.