Synthesis of Bacterial Cellulose in Low-cost Culture Medium Using Hot Water Extracted Wood Sugars

20113-10 Bacterial Cellulose Yield

Figure: Bacterial yield in hot water wood extract after 28 days of cultivation at pH (first number) and temp (second number).

Cellulose is well known as one of the most abundant biodegradable materials in nature and has received considerable interest in both academic and industrial fields. Cellulose synthesized by bacteria is of particular interest over plant cellulose for some applications due to its unique structural and mechanical properties and high purity.

Some high value applications for bacterial cellulose include biomedical applications (scaffold for tissue engineering, wound dressing materials, artificial skin), and production of membranes for high tech applications, such as diaphragms for loudspeakers.

Problem: Bacterial cellulose is currently expensive to produce and purchase however, due to the expense of the media.

Solution: Use inexpensive hot water extracted wood sugars for bacterial cellulose production.

Current commercial processes yields 7 or 8 gram per liter using expensive media, making the going price for bacterial cellulose about $120/pound.  Many others have attempted the use of less expensive media, molasses for example, but other medias attempted require expensive, slow autoclaving.  Hot water extract does not require an autoclave, and can be used directly.  This method yielded unexpectedly favorable results of 0.15g cellulose/liter at 20 days resonance with no optimization.  Yields could be increased and sped up with optimized conditions (addition of oxygen and/or sugar).

High tech applications that do not need high density yield could be ideal early adopters of this technology.  Next Step, we are seeking commercial parties with interest in bacterial cellulose production to help complete a more detailed financial assessment to determine the feasibility of the use of hot water extract compared to current bacterial cellulose production.  The ideal customer would have access to biomass for extraction, and some familiarity with the equipment and engineering needed for installation in existing or new plants.

Contact: kris.burton@maine.edu

Reference 2013-10

Patent: US Provisional 61/951,899 filed 12March2014

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