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Cofermentation of organic and inorganic residues in biological and bioelectrochemical systems for obtaining bioproducts and electricity


Sustainable development is one of the most important challenges of our century. In recent years, concepts such as Bioeconomy have broadened public policies and research that prioritize the use or reuse of renewable raw materials. Thus, renewable resources, especially waste, are potential feedstocks to produce fuels, materials, and energy. This project focuses on organic and inorganic waste recovery through biochemical and bioelectrochemical processes, to obtain bioproducts and bioelectricity. The project proposes extending the research conducted at the Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology and Renewable Energies - LABIORE, of the Department of Chemistry at FFCLRP-USP. Our investigations have focused on processes biocatalyzed by Clostridium and bioelectrochemical processes catalyzed by bacterial consortia. We have applied Clostridium species to obtain hydrogen and butyric acid, in addition to 1,3-propanediol by fermentation of carbohydrates and glycerol, respectively. So far, we have conducted such bioprocesses with pure organic and inorganic compounds, to mimic the composition of wastes and wastewater. Here, we aim to expand the knowledge we have acquired so far by replacing pure substrates with residues. We will investigate how partial or total replacement of pure compounds with residues impacts bioprocesses involving Clostridium and mixed cultures in CCM in terms of productivity as well as biocatalyst physiology and biochemistry. We will employ experimental designs to investigate the concentration and proportion at which the residues can be used. As carbon source, we will exploit residual glycerol from biodiesel production and horticultural residues, whose composition is predominantly organic. We will replace macro- and micronutrients, which are essential for biological systems to function, with leachate from urban landfills or its concentrate (generated after reverse osmosis). We will co-ferment such residues to obtain bioproducts, such as H2, butyric acid, and 1,3-PDO, in bioprocesses catalyzed by Clostridium, besides electricity in CCM. We will monitor bioprocesses in terms of productivity and efficiencies in each step of gradual replacement of pure compounds with residues. We will also monitor the expression of key enzymes of Clostridium metabolism for the product. The Coulomb Efficiency in the bioelectrochemical process will indicate conversion of the chemical energy contained in the waste into electrical energy. The participants of this proposal will provide the multidisciplinary approach of the project. The recovery of organic vegetable waste is one of the objectives of a collaborative project that is already being developed with Prof. Mónica Coca from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology at the University of Valladolid (Spain). Prof. Adalgisa Rodrigues de Andrade (FFCLRP/USP) will contribute to the characterization of bioelectrochemical processes, and Prof. María Eugenia Guazzaroni (FFCLRP/USP) will contribute to the investigation of microbial communities involved in the degradation of residues in CCM. In this way, the project will help to understand the limits and resilience of microorganisms to the residues. The replacement of pure compounds with waste will promote the reuse of residues, enabling the production of value-added products in a more attractive way. (AU)

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