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Metodología de producción de polihidroxibutirato (PHD) a partir de residuos de alimentos


Oferta Tecnológica
Un centro de investigación español con amplia experiencia en biotecnología y procesos de fermentación ha desarrollado una metodología para producir biopolímeros, en concreto polihidroxibutirato (PHB), mediante el uso de residuos orgánicos del sector agroalimentario como materia prima. Específicamente el polihidroxibutirato se produce a partir de aguas residuales de la industria de procesamiento de zumo. Teniendo en cuenta que los residuos de alimentos suponen un coste debido a sus requisitos de gestión, el método desarrollado transforma los residuos de alimentos en productos con un valor añadido. Se trata de un método flexible que puede adaptarse a diferentes condiciones, características de aguas residuales y concentraciones. El centro de investigación busca empresas de la industria alimentaria con el fin de establecer acuerdos de comercialización con asistencia técnica e investigación.


Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) production methodology from food waste
A Spanish research centre with large experience in biotechnology processes has developed a methodology to produce biopolymers, concretely Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), using organic wastes from the agro-food sector as raw material. Being food waste a cost due to its management requirements, the developed method transforms it into added-value products. Food companies are sought to establish commercial agreements with technical assistance. Research cooperation agreement is sought too.
Food companies generate large amount of by-products and residues that must be managed before going to landfill or to sewage plant. These products involve in most cases a cost for the company and a negative image due to the impact they may cause on the environment.
However, most of these residues are rich in interesting substances that can be extracted or are suitable to be used as culture medium (raw material) in biotechnology processes (mainly fermentations) that result in added value products.
It is widely known that the European Commission supports actions aligned with the bioeconomy regional objectives. Although, biological processes that allow raw material to be more time in the food chain are well regarded, research in this field is necessary.
A Spanish research centre with a large experience in biotechnology and fermentation processes, has a bio-production pilot plant in its facilities that permits to develop new methodologies and to scale up the process to industrial level. The centre has developed a biotechnology method to produce polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) from wastewater of juice processing industry. The development has been carried out in the framework of a 7th framework programme funded project.
After characterizing juice wastewater, the group of scientist identified and selected the microorganisms to produce polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) polymer. Later on they characterized the growth conditions microorganisms needed to use the wastewater as culture medium.
Once the conditions were defined, the polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) bio-production was studied. The scientist analyzed how fermentation works at laboratory and pilot scale. Temperature, nutrient flow and time were adjusted in order to get the better efficiency.
The result was a well established method that permits to obtain as much polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) as possible by a processing juice wastewater. The method is flexible and can be adapted to different conditions, wastewater characteristics and concentrations.
The main innovation is that by taking advantage of wastewater that is a cheap raw material, is possible to obtain a polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) polymer that can be used in the same industry to bottle up juice. Therefore, the method permits to close the loop and maintain the original raw material longer in the food chain, which is the basis of the circular economy.
Concerning the environmental impact, it might be reduced due to the revalorization of waste and its reuse in the same food chain. Moreover, since polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a biodegradable plastic material, it can be naturally degraded with low impact on the environment.
Food companies interested in taking advantage of their by-products or waste are sought to establish commercial agreements with technical assistance. The research centre offers its expertise and technology to be adapted to specific requirements (since every industry has different waste water and by-products composition).
For those sectors with high particularities, research cooperation agreement could be established as well.
Advantages and Innovations:
The main advantages of using the developed methodology are:

- To use cheap raw materials (culture medium) for obtaining biopolymers. The raw materials are by-products from agro-food industry instead of oil or on purpose crops.

- Save cost in crop fields since their use will be not only food but raw materials for biopolymers production.

- To reduce management costs from the food processing sector by valuation of fermentable organic matter contained in food processing by-products. Cost reductions up to 10%

- Benefit on reducing water and waste related costs (intake, treatment and reuse) up to 10%.

- To increase the ability to comply with environmental legislation and improving company marketing strategies (those related to corporate social responsibility). Company visibility could be enhanced.
Stage of Development:
Already on the market
Secret Know-how

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:
Type of partner sought: companies

Specific field of activity: agrofood sector

Role of the sought partner: Companies are expected to take advantage of their by-products or waste to produce added value products, such as biopolymers by implementing the Spanish research centre methodology.


Type and Size of Client:
R&D Institution
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Languages Spoken:


Technology Keywords:
06006001 Biomateriales
06006002 Bioplásticos
06006004 Biopolímeros
06006012 Bioprocesos
06006011 Fermentación