Fungal fermentation on anaerobic digestate for lipid-based biofuel production

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© 2016 The Author(s). Background: Anaerobic digestate is the effluent from anaerobic digestion of organic wastes. It contains a significant amount of nutrients and lignocellulosic materials, even though anaerobic digestion consumed a large portion of organic matters in the wastes. Utilizing the nutrients and lignocellulosic materials in the digestate is critical to significantly improve efficiency of anaerobic digestion technology and generate value-added chemical and fuel products from the organic wastes. Therefore, this study focused on developing an integrated process that uses biogas energy to power fungal fermentation and converts remaining carbon sources, nutrients, and water in the digestate into biofuel precursor-lipid. Results: The process contains two unit operations of anaerobic digestion and digestate utilization. The digestate utilization includes alkali treatment of the mixture feed of solid and liquid digestates, enzymatic hydrolysis for mono-sugar release, overliming detoxification, and fungal fermentation for lipid accumulation. The experimental results conclude that 5 h and 30°C were the preferred conditions for the overliming detoxification regarding lipid accumulation of the following fungal cultivation. The repeated-batch fungal fermentation enhanced lipid accumulation, which led to a final lipid concentration of 3.16 g/L on the digestate with 10% dry matter. The mass and energy balance analysis further indicates that the digestate had enough water for the process uses and the biogas energy was able to balance the needs of individual unit operations. Conclusions: A fresh-water-free and energy-positive process of lipid production from anaerobic digestate was achieved by integrating anaerobic digestion and fungal fermentation. The integration addresses the issues that both biofuel industry and waste management encounter - high water and energy demand of biofuel precursor production and few digestate utilization approaches of organic waste treatment.




Zhong, Y., Liu, Z., Isaguirre, C., Liu, Y., & Liao, W. (2016). Fungal fermentation on anaerobic digestate for lipid-based biofuel production. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 9(1).

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