NOVEL TECHNOLOGIES FOR PRODUCING RENEWABLE CHEMICALS AND POLYMERS FROM CARBOHYDRATES DERIVED FROM AGRICULTURAL FEEDSTOCKS
Location: Renewable Product Technology Research Unit
Title: Bioproducts fro biorefineries
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 6, 2012
Publication Date: June 6, 2012
Citation: Leathers, T.D., Manitchotpisit, P., Sutivisedsak, N., Nunnally, M.S., Price, N.P. 2012. Bioproducts for biorefineries [abstract]. Biorefinery II-Leathers.
Biorefineries of the future may convert biomass to fuels, chemicals, and materials that are provided today by petroleum refineries. Bioproducts are attractive because they could offer benefits of renewability, environmental and personal safety, and biodegradability or recyclability. However, a great deal of research is needed to discover and develop second-generation bioproducts as useful alternatives to petroleum-based products. One such potential bioproduct is pullulan, a unique glucan produced by the fungus Aureobasidium pullulans. Pullulan exhibits film- and fiber-forming properties that mimic those of petroleum-based plastics. Another bioproduct from A. pullulans is poly(ß-L-malic acid) or PMA, a natural biopolyester that may be valuable in bioplastics. A. pullulans also produces a novel “heavy oil” that exhibits surface activity, suggesting it may function as a biosurfactant. In surveys of genetically diverse strains of A. pullulans, isolates were identified that produce high levels of pullulan, PMA, or heavy oil. Interestingly, the best production strains for each bioproduct fell into distinct phylogenetic clades. An additional bioproduct is schizophyllan, a homoglucan produced by the fungus Schizophyllum commune. Its unique physical properties suggest that it may be useful for biomaterial applications. We are currently working to optimize production of these bioproducts from biomass feedstocks, for testing as replacements for petroleum-based products suitable for biorefineries.