Investigation of Biodegradable Plastic Production by An Activated Sludge Microbial Consortium Treating Dairy Industry Wastewater

Investigation of Biodegradable Plastic Production by An Activated Sludge Microbial Consortium Treating Dairy Industry Wastewater

Funding Body (EPA, FP7, etc): EPA

Project type (PhD, post-doc, etc): PhD

Period (start to end): October 2007-March 2011 (3.5 years)

Researcher: Mary McCullagh

Project Description 

Polyhydroxyalkanoates, (PHAs), are biodegradable polyesters which are synthesised intracellurly by a number of microbial species when they encounter an excess of carbon substrate, offset by an inorganic nutrient limitation. The production of these ‘bioplastics’ has received significant, global research interest as  they offer a potential replacement polymer for environmentally recalcitrant petrochemical plastics. However, fermentation costs coupled  with additional downstream processing have thus far hampered the economic competitiveness of PHAs produced form pure cultures. The use of mixed microbial cultures for PHA synthesis offers a possible solution as they can utilise a range of carbon substrates and do not require aseptic fermentation equipment/handling. The current project seeks to investigate the potential for stable PHA accumulation by an enriched, activated sludge microbial consortium utilising dairy processing water as feed stock. Wastewater as a starting material for PHA accumulation is not only low in cost but offers the possibility of producing value added end-products from treatment of a waste.

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork

Top