Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Nature’s own chemical plant

Crude oil is getting more and more expensive, a fact clearly felt by the chemical industry. An alternative source of carbon is biomass, for instance colza and whey, which can likewise be used to produce chemical products.

Petroleum is the feedstock for many products in the chemical industry. However, this fossil fuel is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Renewable raw materials are an alternative. But can the likes of bioethanol be obtained from sources other than foods such as sugar cane or cereals? The answer is yes.

Thanks to white industrial biotechnology, chemical substances can also be derived from waste products generated by the food industry, leftover biomass from agriculture and forestry, and residual materials. Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart are demonstrating how this biotechnical recycling works, using colza, whey and crab shells as examples.

When producing biodiesel from colza oil, raw glycerol is accrued as a byproduct. Scientists at the IGB have now developed a method of converting this raw glycerol into 1,3-propandiol – a chemical base for producing polyesters or wood paint. Until now, 1,3-propandiol has always been chemically synthesized, but it can also be derived from glycerol by certain micro-organisms. Clostridium diolis bacteria, for example, can produce a comparatively high yield of chemical feedstock. However, these bacteria cannot convert raw glycerol. This is because raw glycerol contains fatty acids left over from the colza oil, and these have to be separated out.

“Furthermore, high concentrations of both the glycerol substrate and the 1,3-propandiol product inhibit the growth of the bacteria,” says Dr. Wolfgang Krischke of the IGB, pointing out another challenge in developing this biotechnological process. “We have managed to solve this problem to a large extent by keeping the bioreactor in continuous operation, because once the glycerol has been almost fully converted, it loses its inhibiting effect. In this way, we have achieved a stable process with high product concentrations.” The fatty acids can be converted by yeasts to long chain dicarboxylic acids providing novel building blocks for polymer industries.

One of the byproducts obtained from the manufacture of dairy products is acid whey, which until now has always been disposed of at considerable cost. However, the milk sugar (lactose) contained in the whey can be converted into lactic acid (lactate) with the help of lactic acid bacteria. Lactate not only serves as a preservative agent and acidifier in food production, but can also be used as a feedstock in the chemical industry – for example in the production of polylactides, which are biodegradable polymers. Such polylactic acids are already being used to make disposable crockery and screws for surgical operations.

| alfa
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>