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Investigation of a new effective bacterium for cellulosic degradation

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posted on 08.06.2021, 09:48 by Weining Lin
Clostridium phytofermentans, a newly isolated mesophilic anaerobic bacterium from forest soil, has received considerable attention for its potential application in producing ethanol directly from cellulose. This microorganism produces ethanol, acetate, CO₂ and H₂ as major metabolites from cellulose. Potential applications of this research include the transformation of waste materials into valuable products, such as fuels and organic acids. As an initial part of a multi-staged project, this study is to focus on the characerization of this microorganism growth and to verify the bacterium kinetics, including biomass growth, substrate utilization, and gas production. A series of batch fermentation experiments using cellulose substrate (GS-2C) was performed under the incubation temperature of 37°C. To investigate the effects of pH and substrate concentration (S₀) on growth, 12 trial experiments were conducted with various controlled pH values (7.0 to 8.5) and with various initial cellulose concentration settings (0.1 to 6.0 g/L). Our experimental results showed that the optimal growth condition for C. phytofermentans in batch culture was at pH = 8.4 amd S₀ = 6.0 g/L. Under such condition, the maximum growth rate of 0.37h⁻¹ was observed. Comparing results with other celluloytic clostridium studies, relatively high biomass growth rate using C. phytofermentans is confirmed by our experiments. Mathematical models, using a combination modelling approach with the logistic equation. Monod model, and Luedeking-Piret model, were developed for biomass growth, substrate degradation, and biogas production, respectively, base on our experiment results. This study demonstrated the determination of the four parameters (µmax, Ks, Y, and Smin), which can describe satisfactorily growth or degradation phenomena, using the proposed integration modelling approach. The experiments conducted under wide range conditions, such as changing pH and S₀, not only provide insight into growth kinetics but also provide an opportunity to evaluate the performance of the mathematical models and understand their limitations. This leads to look for improvement or modification to the models. It is foreseen that the findings in this study will enhance the overall understanding of the kinetics of growth and substrate utilization and product formation of this bacterium, and provide important information on the design of the bench-scale anaerobic bioreactor for future studies.





Master of Engineering


Civil Engineering

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Grace Luk

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Civil Engineering (Theses)