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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Sustainable Biofuels and Co-products Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340125

Research Project: Sorghum Biorefining: Integrated Processes for Converting all Sorghum Feedstock Components to Fuels and Co-Products

Location: Sustainable Biofuels and Co-products Research

Title: Succinic acid: technology development and commercialization

item Nghiem, Nhuan - John
item Kleff, Susanne
item Schegmann, Stefan

Submitted to: Fermentation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2017
Publication Date: 6/9/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Nghiem, N.P., Kleff, S., Schegmann, S. 2017. Succinic acid: technology development and commercialization. Fermentation. 3(26):1-14.

Interpretive Summary: Many industrial chemicals and consumer products such as organic solvents and plastics are currently produced using feedstocks of petroleum origin. The dwindling supplies of fossil-based raw materials have attracted strong interest in development of technologies for production of industrial chemicals using renewable feedstocks. Succinic acid is a compound that can be used as a starting material for production of many important, large volume industrial chemicals and consumer products. It has been common knowledge that many microorganisms could produce succinic acid when they are grown on sugars, which can be obtained from renewable plant-based feedstocks, under suitable conditions. The effort to develop technology for commercial production of renewable succinic acid started in the early 1990s. Today, bio-based renewable succinic acid is produced commercially by four companies, two in the United States and two in Europe. This review gives a summary of the development of succinic acid-producing microorganisms suitable for commercial applications, biological processes using these microorganisms for succinic acid production, recovery of the product, and commercialization of the developed technology.

Technical Abstract: Succinic acid is a precursor of many important, large volume industrial chemicals and consumer products. It was common knowledge that many ruminant microorganisms accumulated succinic acid under anaerobic conditions. However, it was not until the discovery of Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens at Michigan Biotechnology Institute (MBI), which was capable of producing succinic acid up to about 30 g/L under optimum conditions, that the commercial feasibility of producing the compound by biological processes was realized. Other microbial strains capable of producing succinic acid to high final concentrations subsequently were isolated and engineered followed by development of fermentation processes. Processes for recovery and purification of succinic acid from fermentation broths were simultaneously established along with new applications of succinic acid, e.g. production of industrial solvents and biodegradable deicers. Several technologies for the fermentation based production of succinic acid and the subsequent conversion to useful products are currently commercialized. This review gives a summary of the development of microbial strains, their fermentation, and the importance of the down-stream recovery and purification efforts to suit the applications in the context of their current commercialization status for biologically derived succinic acid.