Sunday, April 29, 2007

Conversion of corn fiber to value-added specialty chemicals

Susanne Kleff, Farzaneh Teymouri, Michael Guettler, Robert Hanchar, and Chris Saffron. MBI International, 3900 Collins Road, Lansing, MI 48910

Bio-refineries that produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass will be faced with a large waste of hemicellulosic materials, as current industrial ethanologens preferentially metabolize only glucose.  Hydrolysis of hemicellulose to pentose sugars could supply a substrate that can be converted to valuable co-products such as succinic acid.  MBI’s proprietary Actinobacillus succinogenes bacterium has several features that make the organism well suited for integration into corn milling operations.  First, the organism naturally uses pentose and hexose  sugars.  This allows use of both starch and fiber based sugars in corn for succinate  production.   As a second alternative, A. succinogenes can be used in succession with ethanol producing fermentations.  This process has the advantage that A. succinogenes thrives on by-products generated in yeast-ethanol fermentations in the form of nutrients and CO2, the latter being incorporated into the succinate product.  Hydrolysis yields of hemicellulose from corn fiber and fermentation yields will be presented.  The economic implications of an integrated bio-refinery will be discussed.