Production of chemicals from biomass
Using microorganisms that convert biomass to usable chemicals through fermentation is a step towards a bio-based economy.
BioBUF assesses the possibilities to use the cellulose and hemicellulose sugar components in GROT (branches and tops from logging operations), and cellulose and starch in microalgae, respectively, as carbon source in the fermentation process. By using specific yeast strains, the fermentation process can be targeted towards production of high-value sustances. Adipic acid is such a substance. It is currently made from benzene and mainly used to produce nylon. In 2011, the global consumption of adipic acid was 2.8 million tonnes.
In addition to the sugars, which are relatively easily extracted, GROT and microalgae also contain other potentially interesting substances. Extracting various aromatic compounds from lignin will probably require both pre-treatment and purification processes as well as genetically modified yeast strains that can manage the lignin. In the project group, we have a long experience of such genetically modified yeast strains.
In microalgae there are several interesting substances that could be transformed into high-value products. The light-sensitive pigments involved in the photosynthesis consist largely of terpenes with antioxidative, bioreactive and anti-fouling properties. They also contain odorants and flavourings.