Further progress in biorefinery-based materials and energy recovery from biodegradable waste

Proponente Alessandra Polettini - Professore Ordinario
Sottosettore ERC del proponente del progetto
Componenti gruppo di ricerca

The proposed research project will aimed at implementing innovative processes for the treatment and exploitation of biodegradable organic residues from both municipal and industrial sources. These will be engineered to allow sequential generation of bio-hydrogen and biopolymers, thus allowing for energy or materials recovery from the mentioned wastes. The proposed biological processes are based on the so-called biorefinery concept, which involves the integration of different processes to produce value-added solid, liquid and gaseous products from biomass materials. The main objective of the research is the production of bio-hydrogen from dark fermentation of various kinds of organic residues (including the organic fraction of municipal solid waste and agroindustrial residues), with the concomitant generation of a pool of organic acids that can be further processed for materials recovery. Specifically, the dark fermentation stage will be combined with two additional biological stages that will aim at aerobically degrading the organic acids from the first stage under stress conditions for the active biomass. Stress pressure will be engineered in the system through a feast/famine operation regime in order to force the biomass to store intracellular organic polymers during high-load operation as an energy reserve for cell growth and maintenance, to be used during the starvation periods. The intracellular biopolymers will then be concentrated in a final stage operated under nutrient starvation conditions and then separated and recovered from the biomass.
A dedicated experimental campaign will be conducted on the proposal topic using fully automated reaction systems that can be operated under different conditions and monitored through a proprietary remote control software.


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