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Title: Bioconversion of biodiesel by-products to value-added chemicals
Author: Salakkam, Apilak
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 1752
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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To mitigate the problems of depleting and soaring price of fossil fuels, the production and use of renewable energy have been vigorously promoted. In Europe, the role of biologically-derived fuels and in particular biodiesel is gradually increasing in prominent. Rapeseed biodiesel is the most widely produced in Europe. As a consequence, enormous amount of by-products from production processes are being generated. Current strategies for managing these by-products (mainly rapeseed meal and crude glycerol) seem not to be economically sustainable. More efficient utilisation could add more value to the production chain which in turn would raise the competitiveness of biodiesel compared to petro-diesel. The aim of the project reported in this thesis was to study the feasibility of producing a value added product, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), from by-products generated from rapeseed biodiesel production processes as well as to investigate the effects of methanol, a major impurity in crude glycerol, on growth of Cupriavidus necator, a PHB-producing micro-organism.The preliminary study of C. necator growth in crude glycerol based media revealed that optimum concentration of crude glycerol was in a range 15-25 g/L. It was also found that slight changes in the carbon to nitrogen ratio of the feedstock did not significantly affect the growth while methanol at concentrations beyond 10 g/L did. A model based on a saturation equation was developed and used to successfully predict the inhibition of growth by methanol. From the developed model, mechanisms of the inhibition were proposed. The model could also be used to predict satisfactorily growth or productivity rates in other systems containing short-chain alcohols. The growth in solutions derived from rapeseed meal (designated as hydrolysate) via solid-state fermentation by Aspergillus oryzae followed by hydrolysis of the fermented solids was also studied. The biomass production was found to increase as a function of initial free amino nitrogen (FAN) concentration presented in the hydrolysate. However, at higher initial FAN concentrations, a lower conversion of nitrogen to biomass was observed. PHB production was studied using a feedstock which was a mixture of the hydrolysate and crude glycerol. Total biomass concentration reached 28.8 g/L at 120 h with 86% PHB content. PHB productivity and PHB yield on glycerol were 0.21 g/L•h and 0.32 g/g respectively. These results were comparable with those obtained when pure glycerol and synthetic crude glycerol were used, suggesting that, technically, the use of the generic rapeseed- and crude glycerol-based feedstock to produce PHB is feasible.Overall, the feasibility of producing PHB from rapeseed biodiesel by-products has been demonstrated. The satisfactory result leads to the more important outlook that the generic feedstock derived from rapeseed biodiesel by-products has the potential to be used to produce a wide range of products depending on the micro-organism used. Further development of this process to improve nutrient production efficiency as well as product yields and subsequent integration of the process into the biodiesel production process could well be an important contribution in the development of a sustainable biodiesel industry.
Supervisor: Webb, Colin Sponsor: Royal Thai Government
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) ; Cupriavidus necator ; Biodiesel by-products ; Rapeseed meal ; Crude glycerol