Bioextraction technologies for bioplastic and biomass hydrolysates production

M.H.A. Ibrahim, E. Hall
Bioextrax AB,
Sweden

Keywords: bioplastics, biobased, biotechnology, polyhydroxyalkanoates, PHA, PHAs, feather, extraction, protein

Summary:

Globally, there is an increased interest in environmentally friendly bio-based alternatives to currently used chemical processes in agriculture, medicine and industry. Microorganism and its enzymes can provide safe and cost-effective technologies for different applications. One of these applications is the production of biomaterials such as the bioplastics polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). PHAs are bio-polyester materials synthesized by several bacterial and archaeal strains as intracellular reserves for carbon and energy. PHAs have properties similar to petroleum-based plastics; however, PHAs have interesting biodegradability and biocompatibility properties. In spite of the increased interest in PHAs, its industrial production is still hampered by the relatively high production cost compared to fossil-based plastics. This cost can be intensively decreased if a cheap raw material and a cost-effective extraction method can be applied. At Bioextrax, a spin-off from Lund University in Sweden, a microbial based PHA-extraction technique was developed and investigated for different kinds of PHAs and a variety of well-studied producing microbial strains. This technology could make bioplastics production free of the use of organic solvents or other recovery chemicals. The technology allows the coproduction of other valuable components from non-PHA cellular biomass. Moreover, an enzymatic depolymerization process has developed to produce PHA monomers form the recovered native granules. Bioextrax has also developed a technology for bio-valorization of protein-rich biomass and wastes, such as poultry feather. Via this technology, high value hydrolysates can be produced and explored for different innovative applications. Bioextrax AB is working on evaluation and upscaling of these technologies and is interested in making multidisciplinary collaborations with international industrial and academic partners.