A sustainable biorefinery to convert agricultural residues into value-added chemicals

Zhiguo Liu, Wei Liao, Yan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 2 Citations

Abstract

Background: Animal wastes are of particular environmental concern due to greenhouse gases emissions, odor problem, and potential water contamination. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an effective and widely used technology to treat them for bioenergy production. However, the sustainability of AD is compromised by two by-products of the nutrient-rich liquid digestate and the fiber-rich solid digestate. To overcome these limitations, this paper demonstrates a biorefinery concept to fully utilize animal wastes and create a new value-added route for animal waste management. Results: The studied biorefinery includes an AD, electrocoagulation (EC) treatment of the liquid digestate, and fungal conversion of the solid fiber into a fine chemical - chitin. Animal wastes were first treated by an AD to produce methane gas for energy generation to power the entire biorefinery. The resulting liquid digestate was treated by EC to reclaim water. Enzymatic hydrolysis and fungal fermentation were then applied on the cellulose-rich solid digestate to produce chitin. EC water was used as the processing water for the fungal fermentation. The results indicate that the studied biorefinery converts 1 kg dry animal wastes into 17 g fungal biomass containing 12 % of chitin (10 % of glucosamine), and generates 1.7 MJ renewable energy and 8.5 kg irrigation water. Conclusions: This study demonstrates an energy positive and freshwater-free biorefinery to simultaneously treat animal wastes and produce a fine chemical - chitin. The sustainable biorefinery concept provides a win-win solution for agricultural waste management and value-added chemical production.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Article number197
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 17 2016

Profile

Agricultural wastes
Chitin
Animals
Anaerobic digestion
chitin
Electrocoagulation
Digestion
Water
Waste Management
Waste management
Fermentation
liquid
fermentation
waste management
Liquids
Gases
Renewable Energy
Glucosamine
energy
water

Keywords

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Animal wastes
  • Biorefinery
  • Chitin/chitosan
  • Electrocoagulation
  • Fungal fermentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Cite this

A sustainable biorefinery to convert agricultural residues into value-added chemicals. / Liu, Zhiguo; Liao, Wei; Liu, Yan.

In: Biotechnology for Biofuels, Vol. 9, No. 1, 197, 17.09.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - Background: Animal wastes are of particular environmental concern due to greenhouse gases emissions, odor problem, and potential water contamination. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an effective and widely used technology to treat them for bioenergy production. However, the sustainability of AD is compromised by two by-products of the nutrient-rich liquid digestate and the fiber-rich solid digestate. To overcome these limitations, this paper demonstrates a biorefinery concept to fully utilize animal wastes and create a new value-added route for animal waste management. Results: The studied biorefinery includes an AD, electrocoagulation (EC) treatment of the liquid digestate, and fungal conversion of the solid fiber into a fine chemical - chitin. Animal wastes were first treated by an AD to produce methane gas for energy generation to power the entire biorefinery. The resulting liquid digestate was treated by EC to reclaim water. Enzymatic hydrolysis and fungal fermentation were then applied on the cellulose-rich solid digestate to produce chitin. EC water was used as the processing water for the fungal fermentation. The results indicate that the studied biorefinery converts 1 kg dry animal wastes into 17 g fungal biomass containing 12 % of chitin (10 % of glucosamine), and generates 1.7 MJ renewable energy and 8.5 kg irrigation water. Conclusions: This study demonstrates an energy positive and freshwater-free biorefinery to simultaneously treat animal wastes and produce a fine chemical - chitin. The sustainable biorefinery concept provides a win-win solution for agricultural waste management and value-added chemical production.

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