Production of Organic Acids for Polyester Synthesis

acronym: POAP

RESULTS of POAP: Presentation can be found here.

Project coordinator
- Dr. Marta Tortajada - BIOPOLIS, S.L. - Spain
Project leaders
- Dr. Ulf Pruesse - Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institute - Germany (FNR)
- Prof. Dr. Santos Victoria E. - Complutense University of Madrid - Spain
- Dr. Arno Cordes - ASA Spezialenzyme GmbH - Germany (FNR)
- Dr. Alper Soyler - H2Biyotek Ltd Sti - Turkey
- Dr. Zeynep Yöntem - Ekodenge - Turkey
- Pilar Lafuente - REPSOL - Spain
- Prof. Dr. Haluk Hamamci - Middle East Technical University - Turkey

The project objective is the development of efficient processes for the obtention of D-lactic acid (D-LA) and itaconic acid (IA) from low-lignin agricultural wastes (LLW), such as citrus processing waste (CPW) and chaff. Both CPW and chaff are abundant, cheap, non-food competing and renewable polysaccharide-based feedstocks. Thanks to their low lignin content, pre-treatment and enzymatic hydrolysis will be advantageous when comparing to lignocellulosic substrates.
D-LA and IA are among the most interesting candidates to replace petroleum based monomers to synthesize novel polyesters. These acids can currently be obtained by fermentation from expensive glucose/sucrose/starch sources. Alternative raw materials such as lignocellulosic substrates have been assayed but high pre-treatment costs hinder the performance of such processes.
In this project, LLW such as CPW and chaff will be processed by enzymatic and/or chemical hydrolysis. CPW will be previously treated by state-of-the-art extraction technologies to remove orange oil. Novel enzymes will be evaluated for the disintegration of cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin. As a complementary substrate, raw glycerol from biodiesel processing is also considered.
Most suitable microorganisms for D-LA and IA production using hydrolyzed LLW will be screened. Optimization of fermentation with both free and immobilized cells will be carried out. Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation process (SSF) preferentially by solid-state fermentation will be evaluated and optimized. Studies regarding suitable purification methods and catalytic upgrade to new bio-based monomers and polymers will be conducted.
Process sustainability will be evaluated through the realization of a complete Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The most efficient and sustainable process will be identified and scaled-up. Material Flow Accounting (MFA) methods will be utilized by the help of an information system for the evaluation life cycle cost analyses and financial feasibility.
Project outcomes will be new biocatalysts and proficient processes selected through LCA for the transformation of LLW into valuable building blocks with a further upgrading to polymers and copolymers. These results shall be protected by patenting and exploited preferentially within the consortium.