Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Renewable Product Technology Research » Research » Research Project #427980

Research Project: New Biobased Products and Improved Biochemical Processes for the Biorefining Industry

Location: Renewable Product Technology Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-164-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 19, 2014
End Date: Jul 24, 2019

Objective:
Objective 1: Develop microbial and enzymic approaches that enable marketable value-added products, including biofuels, from the conversion of biomass feedstocks. Sub-objective 1.1: Production and utilization of microbial oils. Sub-objective 1.2: Develop microbial catalysts to produce value-added proteins as co-products of biofuel production. Sub-objective 1.3: Biochemical conversion of agricultural feedstocks to butyric acid. Objective 2: Improve fermentation processes by controlling microbial contamination in commercial biorefineries. Sub-objective 2.1: Develop molecular tools to characterize the microbial communities (planktonic and biofilm) of commercial biorefineries. Sub-objective 2.2. Develop novel antibacterial agents effective against common bacterial contaminants.

Approach:
Reducing the economic risks of biorefining by diversifying the portfolio of marketable biobased products and by improving the efficiencies of processes for producing them from agricultural materials will enable the growth and sustainability of biorefining. Research will develop biological approaches to creating new products from agricultural feedstocks, and on reducing the incidence of operating disruptions at commercial biorefineries. Growth of the ethanol-based biorefining industry is hindered by gasoline blending rates and limited uses for distillers grains. Novel products from renewable biomass-based feedstocks could enable additional revenue streams in commercial biorefineries, but technical challenges still exist for biorefineries that want to manufacture new products and co-products for a variety of consumer, food, and industrial applications. Research will focus on the development of three classes of value-added biobased products: oils, proteins, and chemicals. Fermentations at commercial biofuel biorefineries are not performed under pure-culture conditions, and a variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria as well as yeast have been isolated from fuel ethanol fermentations. Lactic acid bacteria are generally considered to be the primary contaminants of corn-based fuel ethanol facilities, and it is anticipated that they will also infect the fermentation unit operation of future biorefineries employing a wide variety of biomass-based feedstocks. Our previous research was selective for bacterial strains that are readily cultured under laboratory conditions, and was successful in identifying hundreds of bacterial strains and their impact on Saccharomyces cerevisiae production of ethanol from corn mash. Research will characterize the microorganisms that contaminate commercial fermentation facilities, and on the development of new intervention strategies to control infections by planktonic and sessile (i.e. biofilm) bacteria.