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Bioconversion of Waste Organic Matter into a Microbial Biomass Protein

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Food processing industries produce large quantities of wastewater with a high organic content. It is expensive to treat and dispose of this wastewater and it is a waste of organic resources. These waste streams can be converted from an economic liability to a source of revenue in the production of a high quality single cell protein. Several studies have been carried out on the production of microbial biomass protein from food processing wastewater using aerobic yeast cultures. The main challenge seems to be prevention of bacterial infection and maintaining the selected cultures in a full-scale continuous flow reactor. The hypothesis behind this research is that there is a range of operating conditions (e.g., SRT, pH, temperature) at which selected microorganism cultures have a competitive advantage and can be maintained in the system by a natural selection process. The concept was demonstrated with wastewater from the production of furfural, but the proposed methodology can be applied to any organic contaminants and microorganisms cultures. The results of this study indicated that furfural production wastewater can be effectively treated by aerobic yeast cultures to produce high quality microbial biomass. A COD removal efficiency of 92–95% and complete furfural degradation was achieved in a single stage process. A new approach for the design of biological processes aimed at the production of microbial biomass protein was proposed. The proposed approach is based on maintaining the selected microorganisms cultures in the system using natural selection processes. A methodology to define the range of operating conditions that prevent bacterial growth was proposed and verified in continuous flow experiments. Effluent soluble COD was significantly higher than the effluent biodegradable COD predicted possibly due to formation of SMP associated with substrate biodegradation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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