“Biorefineries for sustainable future”

Organic raw materials such as lignocellulosic biomass, sewage sludge, agro-industrial waste, organic fraction of municipal solid waste have a high potential as feedstocks that can be refined and converted into multiple valuable products. Implementation of biorefineries will allow for substitution of petroleum refinery by utilizing organic waste and biomass resources for the production of several different industrial products such as transportation fuels, commodity chemicals and materials as well as high-value, low-volume specialty chemicals.

Increasing energy demand, the negative impact of fossil fuels usage on global climate change and the need for management of waste generated by the growing World’s population are the main factors driving biorefinery development.

Although most of the biotechnological processes use pure culture fermentation, as process parameters can be optimized for specific strains of microorganism, its requirements for sterile operating conditions and high quality and purity raw material pose a fundamental disadvantage of this approach. Open culture fermentation, on the other hand, does not rely on specific microorganism’s strain and can be operated in non-sterile conditions without significant risk of contamination.

At the Biorefinery Research Group, we are engaged in studying open culture fermentation processes for conversion of organic waste, biomass and gaseous feedstock into high-value biochemicals.