Document Type: Research Paper
Departamento de Ingeniería Bioquímica, Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Av. Universidad 940 Ciudad Universitaria, Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, México.
Tecnología Ambiental, Centro de Investigación y Asistencia en Tecnología y Diseño del Estado de Jalisco, A.C.(CIATEJ), Normalistas 800, Colinas de La Normal, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México.
Escalamiento y Planta piloto, Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Av. Universidad 2001, Chamilpa, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.
Butanol is considered a superior liquid fuel that can replace gasoline in internal combustion engines. It is produced by acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation using various species of solventogenic clostridia. Performance of ABE fermentation process is severely limited mostly by high cost of substrate, substrate inhibition and low solvent tolerance; leading to low product concentrations, low productivity, low yield, and difficulty in controlling culture metabolism. In order to decrease the cost per substrate and exploit a waste generated by dairy industry, this study proposes using cheese whey as substrate for ABE fermentation. It was observed that the addition of an iron source was strictly necessary for the cheese whey to be a viable substrate because this metal is needed to produce ferredoxin, a key protein in the fermentative metabolism of Clostridium acetobutylicum serving as a temporary electron acceptor. Lack of iron in the cheese whey impedes ferredoxin synthesis and therefore, restricts pyruvate-ferredoxin oxidoreductase activity leading to the production of lactic acid instead of acetone, butanol and ethanol. Moreover, the addition of FeSO4 notably improved ABE production performance by increasing butanol content (7.13 ± 1.53 g/L) by 65% compared to that of FeCl3 (4.32 ± 0.94 g/L) under the same fermentation conditions.