Biomass Conversion, CO2 Valorisation and Power-to-X: Fermentation Chemicals and Fuels

A special issue of Fermentation (ISSN 2311-5637). This special issue belongs to the section "Industrial Fermentation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 June 2024 | Viewed by 5722

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Center for Research and Technology-Hellas, Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute, Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: biorefineries; biofuels; delignification and fractionation technologies; biomass and wastes valorization; pyrolysis; heterogeneous catalysis; thermochemical conversion technologies
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Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Western Macedonia (UOWM), Kozani, Greece
Interests: wastewater treatment; energy; nanocomposites; chemical engineering; environmental engineering; photocatalysis; catalyst; heterogeneous catalysis; nanomaterials; water purification technologies
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Lignocellulosic biomass, especially in the form of waste residues, such as those produced in the agriculture and forestry industries, has garnered significant attention in recent years for the production of fuels and high-added-value chemicals. It is a sustainable and renewable source of carbon and hydrogen, and is, therefore, suitable to replace fossil resources in an integrated concept of a bio-refinery. In our efforts to produce truly sustainable fuels and chemicals, various feedstocks and input sources are now being considered. CO2 valorisation, that aims to recapture the carbon and repurpose it into high-added-value products, and power-to-x technologies that aim to increase the sustainability of these products by introducing sustainable energy in the conversion processes have also gathered significant attention in the past few years.

The biochemical transformation of lignocellulosic biomass and CO2, employing enzymes and microorganisms found in nature and drawing inspiration from our ecosystem, is emerging as an important tool in bio-refinery technology. It has significant advantages, such as high selectivity and low production of toxic by-products, low energy requirements, and it requires water as a solvent and is, therefore, an extremely green process. In addition, coupling biotechnology with other established technologies, such as electrochemistry and photocatalysis, and introducing renewable energy, in the form of, e.g., electricity or photons, has tremendous potential to accelerate the development of extremely innovative and selective processes that will yield high-added-value chemicals and fuels.

However, significant challenges also need to be addressed. Enzymes are still expensive, efficient pretreatment of the biomass is needed in order to efficiently convert its fractions, biochemical reactions can be slow significantly increasing reactor sizes and introduction of renewable energy in the processes can make them more complex and challenging.

Nevertheless, the added value of fermentation processes is unequivocal. Fermentation can produce fuels in the form of alcohols; chemicals, such as organic acids acid that are the building blocks for novel polymers; phenols and phenol oligomers with targeted functionalities that are derived from lignin—the only renewable source of aromatic rings in abundance. Moreover, high-added-value products are especially interesting, such as food additives in the form of prebiotics and omega-3 fatty acids derived from microalgae or nanoparticles of lignin and cellulose, which are products with increased functionalities.

This Special Issue aims to highlight the emerging role of fermentation in the development of traditional and novel processes that integrate valorisation of biomass wastes and CO2 with sustainable energy and to underline the key challenges that arise in this demanding yet fulfilling research area.

Dr. Konstantinos G. Kalogiannis
Dr. Maria Antoniadou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Fermentation is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • fermentation 
  • biocatalysis 
  • lignocellulosic biomass 
  • CO2 valorisation 
  • Power-to-X 
  • platform chemicals 
  • electrochemistry 
  • photocatalysis 
  • enzymatic hydrolysis 
  • saccharification 
  • green chemistry 
  • pretreatment 
  • chemical building blocks 
  • fuels

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 2769 KiB  
Article
Microbial Conversion of Cheese Whey to Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) via Statistically Optimized Cultures
by Giannis Penloglou, Alexandros Pavlou and Costas Kiparissides
Fermentation 2023, 9(7), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation9070624 - 30 Jun 2023
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Abstract
The intended circular economy for plastics envisages that they will be partially replaced by bio-based polymers in the future. In this work, the natural polyester polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) was produced by Azohydromonas lata using cheese whey (CW) as a low-cost substrate. Initially, CW was [...] Read more.
The intended circular economy for plastics envisages that they will be partially replaced by bio-based polymers in the future. In this work, the natural polyester polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) was produced by Azohydromonas lata using cheese whey (CW) as a low-cost substrate. Initially, CW was evaluated as the sole carbon source for PHB production; it was found to be efficient and comparable to PHB production with pure sugars, such as saccharose or glucose, even when mild (with dilute acid) hydrolysis of cheese whey was performed instead of enzymatic hydrolysis. An additional series of experiments was statistically designed using the Taguchi method, and a dual optimization approach was applied to maximize the intracellular biopolymer content (%PHB, selected as a quantitative key performance indicator, KPI) and the weight average molecular weight of PHB (Mw, set as a qualitative KPI). Two different sets of conditions for the values of the selected bioprocess parameters were identified: (1) a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C/N) of 10 w/w, a carbon-to-phosphorous ratio (C/P) of 1.9 w/w, a dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) of 20%, and a residence time in the stationary phase (RT) of 1 h, resulting in the maximum %PHB (61.66% w/w), and (2) a C/N of 13.3 w/w, a C/P of 5 w/w, a DO of 20%, and a RT of 1 h, leading to the maximum Mw (900 kDa). A final sensitivity analysis confirmed that DO was the most significant parameter for %PHB, whereas C/N was the most important parameter for Mw. Full article
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19 pages, 2780 KiB  
Article
Automatic Control of Chemolithotrophic Cultivation of Cupriavidus necator: Optimization of Oxygen Supply for Enhanced Bioplastic Production
by Vera Lambauer, Alexander Permann, Zdeněk Petrášek, Vanja Subotić, Christoph Hochenauer, Regina Kratzer and Markus Reichhartinger
Fermentation 2023, 9(7), 619; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation9070619 - 29 Jun 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1892
Abstract
Gas fermentation is an upcoming technology to convert gaseous substrates into value-added products using autotrophic microorganisms. The hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria Cupriavidus necator efficiently uses CO2 as its sole carbon source, H2 as electron donor and O2 as electron acceptor. Surplus CO [...] Read more.
Gas fermentation is an upcoming technology to convert gaseous substrates into value-added products using autotrophic microorganisms. The hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria Cupriavidus necator efficiently uses CO2 as its sole carbon source, H2 as electron donor and O2 as electron acceptor. Surplus CO2 is stored in microbial storage material poly-(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate. O2 supply is the most critical parameter for growth and poly-(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate formation. A narrow O2 optimum between ~0.2 and ~4 mg/L was previously reported. Here, a standard benchtop bioreactor was redesigned for autotrophic growth of C. necator on explosive mixtures of CO2, H2 and O2. The bioreactor was equipped with mass flow control units and O2 and CO2 sensors. A controller for automated gas dosage based on a mathematical model including gas mass transfer, gas consumption and sensor response time was developed. Dissolved O2 concentrations were adjusted with high precision to 1, 2 and 4% O2 saturation (0.4, 0.8 and 1.5 mg/L dissolved O2, respectively). In total, up to 15 g/L cell dry weight were produced. Residual biomass formation was 3.6 ± 0.2 g/L under all three O2 concentrations. However, poly-(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate content was 71, 77 and 58% of the cell dry weight with 1, 2 and 4% dissolved O2, respectively. Full article
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Review

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14 pages, 994 KiB  
Review
Reducing Carbon Intensity of Food and Fuel Production Whilst Lowering Land-Use Impacts of Biofuels
by Paul V. Attfield, Philip J. L. Bell and Anna S. Grobler
Fermentation 2023, 9(7), 633; https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation9070633 - 04 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2101
Abstract
Science and technology are critical for developing novel and sustainable production of food, fuel, and chemicals in a manner that significantly reduces anthropogenic contributions to climate change. Although renewable energy is gradually displacing fossil fuels for grid energy, oil-based transport fuels remain major [...] Read more.
Science and technology are critical for developing novel and sustainable production of food, fuel, and chemicals in a manner that significantly reduces anthropogenic contributions to climate change. Although renewable energy is gradually displacing fossil fuels for grid energy, oil-based transport fuels remain major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, bioethanol and biodiesel can partially replace petroleum, but these renewables are far from perfect in terms of long-term sustainability and the volumetric expansion needed to fully replace oil. Biofuels made in biorefineries using sugars or oils derived from plants grown on prime food-producing land only partly offset CO2 emissions relative to petroleum and present problems with respect to land-use change. Here, we provide alternative ideas for lignocellulosic biorefineries that coproduce bioethanol, nutritious protein-rich yeast biomass for animal feeds, and carbon-rich solid residuals that represent green coal or sequestered carbon. A concept of how these biorefineries could be linked to renewable power-to-X, where X can be bioethanol, protein, sequestered carbon, or multiple carbon-carbon based synthetic fuels and chemicals, is presented. We also discuss aspects of the present and future roles for microorganisms in lignocellulosic biorefineries and power-to-X bio/chemical refineries. Full article
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