Open Access Original article

Utilization of vinasse for production of poly-3-(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate) by Haloferax mediterranei

Anirban Bhattacharyya1, Arnab Pramanik1, Sudipta Kumar Maji2, Saubhik Haldar2, Ujjal Kumar Mukhopadhyay3 and Joydeep Mukherjee1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Environmental Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, 700 032, India

2 Department of Chemistry, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, 700 032, India

3 West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Paribesh Bhavan, 10A, Block LA, Sector III, Salt Lake City, Kolkata, 700 098, India

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AMB Express 2012, 2:34  doi:10.1186/2191-0855-2-34

Published: 9 July 2012


Vinasse, a highly polluting waste of the ethanol industry was utilized for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) by the extremely halophilic archaeon, Haloferax mediterranei in shake-flasks. Following pre-treatment through adsorption on activated carbon, 25%-50% (v/v) pre-treated vinasse was utilized leading to 70% maximum accumulation of PHA. Maximum PHA concentration of 19.7 g/l, product yield coefficient (based on total carbohydrates) of 0.87 and 0.21 g/l h volumetric productivity were achieved. Concomitant lowering of BOD5 of pre-treated vinasse by at least 78% and COD by at least 80% was attained at the end of this process. The PHA was recovered by osmotic lysis of the cells and purification by sodium hypochlorite and organic solvents. Through UV–vis spectroscopy, gas chromatography, differential scanning calorimetry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the PHA was identified as poly-3-(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate). The 3-hydroxyvalerate content was 12.36 mol % (utilizing 25% pre-treated vinasse) and 14.09 mol % (utilizing 50% pre-treated vinasse). High salt concentration in the medium allowed this process without sterile conditions and thus reduction in costs of sterilization can be envisaged. Activated charcoal pre-treatment of vinasse is economical than competing processes such as ultrafiltration of whey, extrusion and enzymatic treatment of rice and corn starch. Without impacting sugar prices, this process can easily be integrated into a distillery that has fermentation equipment and trained personnel. High PHA content, productivity, zero-cost carbon source, low-cost isolation of a high-purity product and potential integration into ethanol manufacturing unit with concomitant wastewater treatment should merit further development of this process to higher scales.

Poly-3-(hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate); Vinasse; Polyphenols; Haloarchaea; Haloferax mediterranei