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Concept: Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


Caulobacteria are presumed to be responsible for considerable mineralization of organic material in aquatic environments. In this study, a facultative, mesophilic and cellulolytic bacterium Caulobacter sp. FMC1 was isolated from sediments which were taken from a shallow freshwater lake and then enriched with amendment of submerged macrophyte for three months. This strain seemed to evolve a capacity to adapt redox-fluctuating environments, and could degrade cellulose both aerobically and anaerobically. Cellulose degradation percentages under aerobic and anaerobic conditions were approximately 27% and 10% after a 240-h incubation in liquid mediums containing 0.5% cellulose, respectively. Either cellulose or cellobiose alone was able to induce activities of endoglucanase, exoglucanase, and β-1,4-glucosidase. Interestingly, ethanol was produced as the main fermentative product under anaerobic incubation on cellulose. These results could improve our understanding about cellulose-degrading process in aquatic environments, and were also useful in optimizing cellulose bioconversion process for bioethanol production.

Concepts: Glucose, Cell wall, Anaerobic digestion, Cellulose, Ethanol fuel, Cellulase, Anaerobic exercise, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


A techno-economic evaluation of bioenergy production from macroalgae was carried out in this study. Six different scenarios were examined for the production of different energy products and by-products. Seaweed was produced either via the longline method or the grid method. Final products of these scenarios were either ethanol from fermentation, or electricity from anaerobic digestion (AD). By-products were digestate for AD, and animal feed, or electricity and digestate, for the fermentation pathway. Bioenergy breakeven selling prices were investigated according to the cost components and the feedstock supply chain, while suggestions for potential optimization of costs were provided. The lowest production level of dry seaweed to meet 0.93 ($/L) for ethanol fuel and 0.07 $/kW-h for electricity was found to be 0.68 and 3.7 million tonnes (dry basis), respectively. At the moment, biofuel production from seaweed has been determined not to be economically feasible, but achieving economic production may be possible by lowering production costs and increasing the area under cultivation.

Concepts: Ethanol, Cost, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Biofuel, Ethanol fuel, Ethanol fermentation, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


Anaerobic digestion of aqueous pyrolysis liquor derived from pyrolysis of solid digestate was tested in batch mode using an un-adapted inoculum. Three pyrolysis liquors produced at 330°C, 430°C and 530°C in four COD-based concentrations of 3, 6, 12 and 30gL(-1) were investigated. The three lower concentrations showed considerable biogas production, whereas the 30gL(-1) dosage caused process inhibition. The highest methane yield of 199.1±18.5mLgCOD(-1) (COD removal: 56.9±5.3%) was observed for the 330°C pyrolysis liquor, followed by the 430°C sample with only slightly lower values. The 530°C sample dropped to a yield of 129.3±19.7mLgCOD(-1) (COD removal: 36.9±5.6%). Most VOCs contained in the pyrolysis liquor (i.e. furfural, phenol, catechol, guaiacol, and levoglucosan) were reduced below detection limit (cresol by 10-60%). Consequently, integrated pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion in addition to thermochemical conversion of digestate also promises bioconversion of pyrolysis liquors.

Concepts: Integral, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Phenols, Methane, Biodegradable waste management, Digestate, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


This novel work is focused on evaluating the electrohydrolysis pretreatment conditions (applied voltage and time) and anaerobic digestion process for the biological bioconversion of pulp and paper mill sludge into biogas in batch assay. The pretreatment at 15V for 45min shows highest impact on sludge solubilization. The XRD and FT-IR spectroscopic characterization shows the development of aliphatic, unsaturated and carbonyl carbon functionalities in the pretreated samples. FESEM picture also qualities the change in alteration of structure after pretreatment. Batch anaerobic bioreactor was carried out to determine the efficacy of electrohydrolysis pretreated and untreated pulp and paper mill sludge. The methane production potential was increased from 274±5 to 301±4mL CH4/g VS after electrohydrolysis pretreatment.

Concepts: Anaerobic digestion, Waste management, Biogas, Cellulose, Paper, Methane, Biodegradable waste management, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


With regard to renewable sources of energy, bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass has long been recognized as a desirable endeavor. However, the highly heterogeneous structure of lignocellulose restricts the exploitation of its promising potential in biogas plants. Hence, effective pre-treatment methods are decisive prerequisites to overcome these challenges in order to improve the utilization ratio of (ligno) cellulosic substrates during fermentation. In the present study, the application of Trichoderma viride in an aerobic upstream process prior to anaerobic digestion led up to a threefold increase in the yield of methane and total gas in a lab-scale investigation. Due to its highly efficient cellulolytic activities, T. viride seemed to be responsible for an improved nutrient availability that positively influenced the anaerobic microbiocenosis. Aerobic pre-treatment of organic matter with T. viride is therefore a promising solution to achieve higher methane yields and degradation performances without any additional energy demand, nor undesired by-product inhibition.

Concepts: Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Sintex Digester, Hydrogen sulfide, Natural gas, Methane, Landfill, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


A combined process was designed for the co-production of ethanol and methane from unwashed steam-exploded corn stover. A terminal ethanol titer of 69.8g/kg mass weight (72.5%) was achieved when the fed-batch mode was performed at a final solids loading of 35.5% (w/w) dry matter (DM) content. The whole stillage from high-solids ethanol fermentation was directly transferred in a 3-L anaerobic digester. During 52-day single-stage digester operation, the methane productivity was 320mLCH4/g volatile solids (VS) with a maximum VS reduction efficiency of 55.3%. The calculated overall product yield was 197g ethanol+96gmethane/kg corn stover. This indicated that the combined process was able to improve overall content utilization and extract a greater yield of lignocellulosic biomass compared to ethanol fermentation alone.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Ethanol, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Sintex Digester, Methane, Landfill, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


This study investigates for the first time, on laboratory scale, the possible application of an innovative enhanced stabilization process based on sequential mesophilic/thermophilic anaerobic digestion of waste-activated sludge, with low-energy sonication pretreatment. The first mesophilic digestion step was conducted at short hydraulic retention time (3-5 days), in order to favor volatile fatty acid production, followed by a longer thermophilic step of 10 days to enhance the bioconversion kinetics, assuring a complete pathogen removal. The high volatile solid removals, up to 55 %, noticeably higher compared to the performances of a single-stage process carried out in same conditions, can guarantee the stability of the final digestate for land application. The ultrasonic pretreatment influenced significantly the fatty acid formation and composition during the first mesophilic step, improving consequently the thermophilic conversion of these compounds into methane. Methane yield from sonicated sludge digestion reached values up to 0.2 Nm(3)/kgVSfed. Positive energy balances highlighted the possible exploitation of this innovative two-stage digestion in place of conventional single-stage processes.

Concepts: Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Methane, Thermophile, Mesophile, Biodegradable waste management, Digestate, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


This paper presents the stoichiometry section of a bioenergetics investigation into the biogas plasticization of wastewater sludge using the Anaerobic Pump (TAP). Three residue samples, an input substrate and two residual products, were collected from two side by side operated AD systems, a conventional continuous flow and stirred reactor, and TAP, and submitted for elemental and calorimetric analyses. The elemental compositions of the residues were fitted to a heterotrophic metabolism model [1] for both systems. To facilitate balanced stoichiometric models, a simple “cell” correction computation separates measured residual composites into “real” residual composition and cell growth (C5H7NO2) components. The elemental data and model results show that the TAP stage II residual composition (C1H0.065O0.0027N0.036) was nearly devoid of hydrogen and oxygen, leaving only fixed carbon and cells grown as the composition of the remaining mass. This quantitative evidence supports prior measurements of very high methane yields from TAP stage II reactor during steady-state experiments [2]. All performance parameters derived from the stoichiometric model(s) showed good agreement with measured steady-state averaged values. These findings are strong evidence that plasticization-disruption (TAP) cycle is the mechanism responsible for the observed increases in methane yield. The accuracy achieved by the stoichiometry models qualifies them for thermodynamic analysis to obtain potentials and bioconversion efficiencies. How applied pressure causes matrix conformation changes triggered by a functional consequence (plasticization and disruption) is this study’s essential focus.

Concepts: Bacteria, Anaerobic digestion, Biogas, Hydrogen sulfide, Yield, Methane, Landfill, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


Microalgae farming has been identified as the most eco-sustainable solution for producing biodiesel. However, the operation of full-scale plants is still limited by costs and the utilization of industrial and/or domestic wastes can significantly improve economic profits. Several waste effluents are valuable sources of nutrients for the cultivation of microalgae. Ethanol production from sugarcane, for instance, generates significant amounts of organically rich effluent, the vinasse. After anaerobic digestion treatment, nutrient remaining in such an effluent can be used to grow microalgae. This research aimed to testing the potential of the anaerobic treated vinasse as an alternative source of nutrients for culturing microalgae with the goal of supplying the biodiesel industrial chain with algal biomass and oil. The anaerobic process treating vinasse reached a steady state at about 17 batch cycles of 24 h producing about 0.116 m(3)CH4 kgCODvinasse (-1). The highest productivity of Chlorella vulgaris biomass (70 mg l(-1) day(-1)) was observed when using medium prepared with the anaerobic digester effluent. Lipid productivity varied from 0.5 to 17 mg l(-1) day(-1). Thus, the results show that it is possible to integrate the culturing of microalgae with the sugarcane industry by means of anaerobic digestion of the vinasse. There is also the advantageous possibility of using by-products of the anaerobic digestion such as methane and CO2 for sustaining the system with energy and carbon source, respectively.

Concepts: Ethanol, Sewage treatment, Anaerobic digestion, Waste management, Biogas, Methane, Environmental engineering, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels


A novel anaerobic thermophilic sulfate-reducing bacterium designated strain LINDBHT1(T) was isolated from an anaerobic digester treating abattoir wastewaters in Tunisia. Strain LINDBHT1(T) grew at temperatures between 50 and 65 °C (optimum 55-60 °C), and at pH between 5.9 and 9.2 (optimum pH 6.0-6.8). Strain LINDBHT1(T) required salt for growth (1-40 g NaCl l(-1)), with an optimum of 20-30 g l(-1). In the presence of sulfate as terminal electron acceptor, strain LINDBHT1(T) used H2/CO2, propanol, butanol and ethanol as carbon and energy sources but fumarate, formate, lactate and pyruvate were not utilized. Butanol was converted to butyrate, while propanol and ethanol were oxidized to propionate and acetate, respectively. Sulfate, sulfite and thiosulfate were utilized as terminal electron acceptors but elemental sulfur, iron (III), fumarate, nitrate and nitrite were not used. The G+C content of the genomic DNA was 44.4 mol%. Phylogenetic analysis of the small-subunit rRNA gene sequence indicated that strain LINDBHT1(T) was affiliated to the genus Desulfotomaculum with the type strains of Desulfotomaculum halophilum and Desulfotomaculum alkaliphilum as its closest phylogenetic relatives (about 89 % similarity). This strain represents a novel species of the genus Desulfotomaculum, Desulfotomaculum peckii sp. nov.; the type strain is LINDBHT1(T) ( = DSM 23769(T) = JCM 17209(T)).

Concepts: Archaea, Biology, Redox, Cellular respiration, Sulfur, Anaerobic digestion, Electron acceptor, Bioconversion of biomass to mixed alcohol fuels