Establishing a Method for Investigating Microbial Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) Production from Anaerobic Digestion Biproducts
Juan Daniel Cornu Sanchez
Advisor: Dr. Ana Martin-Ryals
1ST PLACE, 2021 K.K. BARNES STUDENT PAPER AWARD COMPETITION
This research project stemmed from a larger ongoing graduate research project investigating anaerobic digestion (AD) of food waste and ion-exchange ammonia recovery. According to the USDA and U.S. EPA, in the current treatment paradigm, close to $35 billion worth of retail and consumer food waste is landfilled with little to no energy recovery. AD offers a potential economic and environmentally sustainable alternative to landfilling. The biogas and nutrient-rich effluent generated from AD of food waste can be leveraged for further value-added bio-based resource production such as bioenergy and bioplastics. The aim of this undergraduate research study was to develop a method for investigating microbial conversion of AD biproducts (biogas and nutrients) into the biopolymer, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). The method established in this study will be applied to future research investigating the feasibility co-culturing PHB producing cyanobacteria and methanotrophs, to further reduce the energy demands and cost of microbial PHB production.
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