Municipal and Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facilities: Tomorrows Biorefinery for the Production of Biofuels

T. French, R. Hernandez, J. Hall, A. Mondala, M. White and M. Bricka
Mississippi State University, US

Keywords:

Biofuels, Oleaginous Microorganisms, Wastewater, Biodiesel

Abstract:

Work at Mississippi State University has identified an alternative process for the production of a fuel from lignocellulose. Using oleaginous microorganisms, microbes capable of producing greater than 20% of their dry mass in triacylglycerides, hexoses and pentoses contained in lignocellulosic biomass can be converted to triacylglycerides. This triacylglycerides, i.e. biocrude, can be converted to a biodiesel, green diesel, or JP-8 fuel using an abiotic catalyst. Work with these oleaginous microorganisms has shown that they can accumulate as much as 40% of their dry body weight in biocrude when grown on artificial acid hydrolysate (contains the sugars and other compounds known to be in lignocellulosic biomass). Additional work has also shown that municipal wastewater is an excellent and inexpensive growth medium for the cultivation of these oleaginous microorganisms. Using the known volumes of wastewater generated yearly in the US it is possible to generate ~7 billion gallons or biocrude. This is enough biocrude to significantly reduce the amount of foreign oil derived fuel.


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