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New ”green” uses of by-products from bio-ethanol production
Environmental and economic reasons motivate focused research on biofuel production. The new research programme MicroDrivE – Microbially Derived Energy, offers a series of MSc projects within bio-preservation, enzymatic pre-treatments, ethanol fermentation, bioprocessing of byproducts, biogas production and fertility effects of bioresidues. The projects are supervised by scientists from the Departments of Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and Chemistry at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala. MicroDrivE cooperates with a number of biotech and bioenergy companies. For information on the other MSc projects use the search function ”Fritext” to search for MicroDrive.
Background and goal
In order to make bio-ethanol production a sound economical as well as environmental alternative to fossil fuels, profitable use of process waste and by-products must be considered.
Increased bio-ethanol production will also increase the availability of the by-product distillers’ grain (drank, sv.) that today mostly is used as animal feed.
With well-defined distillers’ grain from our industrial partners as a starting material, this project will address the following questions:
A. Different fractions of distillers’ grain as a source of protein-rich “green” fermentation media.
In industrial cultivation of microorganisms, protein components from meat or soy are often used today as amino acid source for demanding microbials. For a wide range of bio-products there are strong market demands to avoid meat- and soy derived proteins. We have initiated such projects in order to develop protein-rich ”green” fermentation substrates.
B. Use of components from distillers’ grain as drying protectants for microbial bio-products.
A prerequisite for commercial use of viable microorganisms is that they can be formulated (stabilised) with maintained viability and long storage stability.
There are indications that certain components from distillers’ grain can function as drying protectants for freeze drying and as carrier materials for fluidised bed drying of microorganisms.
For efficient and safe use of distillers’ grain as fermentation media or drying protectant, it is of great importance to characterize its contents with respect to e.g. carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, heavy metals and pH. The proposed project will focus on chemical analysis of the water soluble part of several different distillers’ grain with special emphasis on carbohydrates. This will be achieved by use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in conjunction with chromatographic techniques and chemical derivatization methods. Other chemical analyses (proteins, amino acids, heavy metals) will be performed by commercial laboratories. There will also be some focus on the non-soluble fraction of distillers’ grain with respect to e.g. dry weight, fiber contents and mechanical properties. Microbiological characterization of the distillers’ grain will also be performed within the proposed project, and this will include e.g. determination of the number of lactic acid bacteria, total bacteria, yeasts and moulds. The project will involve the Departments of Chemistry and Microbiology at SLU, Uppsala. A successful applicant to this project should have a background in chemistry as well as in biology, and should preferably have studied spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques.
• Chemical characterization, NMR, chromatography
• Cultivation/fermentation of microorganisms
• Microbial formulation, freeze- and fluid bed drying.
We are looking for a student within the chemistry, microbiology and biotechnology area interested in future technologies for biofuel production and environmental concerns.
For information on the Department of Microbiology, SLU, visit http://www.mikrob.slu.se and on the Department of Chemistry, SLU, visit http://www.kemi.slu.se
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