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New PROMICON Research Papers Explore Bioplastic Production Strategies and Microalgae Harvesting for Wastewater Treatment

13 November 2023
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PROMICON project partners from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have recently released two research papers in the New Biotechnology journal, presenting pragmatic insights into novel strategies for bioplastic and exopolysaccharides production, and a comprehensive review addressing challenges and advancements in microalgae harvesting for wastewater treatment and resource recovery.

"New Strategy for Bioplastic and Exopolysaccharides Production: Enrichment of Field Microbiomes with Cyanobacteria"

PROMICON Authors: Beatriz Altamira-Algarra, David San León, Juan Nogales, Joan García, Eva Gonzalez-Flo

This study investigates the potential of seven photosynthetic microbiomes collected from field environmental samples. The aim was to assess their ability for polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and exopolysaccharides (EPS) production, providing environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional polymers. The research found an increase in cyanobacteria within the microbiomes under phosphorus limitation. The study analyzed PHB and EPS production under various culture conditions, revealing microbiome-dependent optimal synthesis conditions. Findings include the enhancement of PHB production with the addition of organic carbon, resulting in up to 14% dcw PHB, and conditions yielding 59 mg·L−1 EPS. The methodology appears suitable for cyanobacteria enrichment in microbiomes, showing potential for scalable bioproduct synthesis.

Read the full paper here.

"Microalgae Harvesting for Wastewater Treatment and Resources Recovery: A Review"

PROMICON Authors: Eva Gonzalez-Flo, Etiele Greque de Morais, Ivet Ferrer, Joan Garcia

This paper underscores the need for an integrated approach that combines engineering, green chemistry, and microbial anabolism to address challenges in microalgal biomass harvesting. The review explores the strategic use of nature-based substances and chemical functionalization in established harvesting methods to reduce costs and prevent biomass contamination. Notably, the unique attributes of microalgae consortia, comprising microalgae and bacteria, are highlighted as crucial considerations for downstream processing. The research systematically explores existing harvesting technologies, including coagulation/flocculation, sedimentation, and differential air flotation, alongside their associated costs. Furthermore, the paper introduces potential avenues like autoflocculation, bioflocculation, novel filtration materials, nanotechnology, microfluidic, and magnetic methods for achieving efficient microalgal biomass harvesting.

Read the full paper here.