You’ve done your bioprospecting – perhaps even had the privilege of going on one of those new superyachts that are part luxury hotels part high-end research labs floating across the oceans. You've discovered your very own unique strain of wild type microbe with unique capabilities to produce several times the current highest titer amount reported in the literature. You're ready to introduce the next prominent chemical precursor and transform an industry. Next step is to figure out how to scale this process up to the level required to finally convert this dream to a profitable business venture that should transform your life forever. You run the numbers as best you can- maybe even get a consultant to perform techno-economic analysis on a scaled process. Despite the astronomical yields in your projections, it’s raw material costs that are threatening to end your dreams before they can leave the conical flasks in the lab shaker.

As many who've gone down this path know first hand and even research has shown, unlike the biopharmaceutical industry where capital expenditure is the chief contributor to the overall cost of goods sold (COGS), raw materials take up a more significant percentage of COGS in industrial biotech. The scale of fermentations going from hundreds of liters in biopharma platforms to thousands of gallons in industrial biotech means feedstock volume requirements are vastly different and costs for purchasing, transportation, storage, handling, and so forth quickly add up.

Traditionally, industrial biotechnology has turned to the agricultural sector to source feedstocks for large scale fermentation. Products like corn steep liquor, molasses, peptones, yeast extracts, and vegetable oils have provided sources of macro and micronutrients for industrial fermentation. Most of these biomass sources contain crude concentrations of the same components in chemically defined media used at the beginning of process development in the lab. They are useful substitutes mainly due to affordability and availability in larger quantities required for large scale fermentation. 

Another unlikely but viable source of crude extracts are Product Specific Wastes (PSW) from industrial food and beverage manufacturing processes. Wastes from the preparation and processing of fruits, grains, meat, coffee, baked goods, confectionery, milk, and beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are important sources of biomass and energy to be exploited for fermentation feedstock. Many of these wastes still end up in landfills where they contribute to greenhouse emissions whereas turning them into substrates for bioconversion via fermentation can ensure they are adequately recycled into newer products while providing cheap sources of fermentation media components for those looking for alternative scale-up feedstock solutions. These offer several benefits that are not immediately apparent. For instance, PSWs have a reasonably consistent composition, are generally derived from processes that often subject the material to disinfection and/or sterilization as a means of removing pathogens in the final product and are readily available for next to nothing save any costs associated with pretreatment or standardization to meet specific fermentation requirements.

As conversations about the development of circular economies continue, governments, industry, and communities seek more innovative solutions to waste management and responding to climate change challenges. Utilizing PSW's from the food and beverage industry as resources for high-value chemical product development via bioconversion provides an excellent model for the closed loop systems that will define the bioeconomy of the future. Chloronova Inc. through its sustainable fermentation media platform is at the forefront of developing pretreatment processes for standardizing and validating Product Specific Waste materials as industrial fermentation media components for clients interested in exploring avenues to broaden their feedstock sourcing while increasing green chemistry implementation and sustainability in their operation. The end goal is the potential to significantly reduce industrial scale fermentation costs by diversifying feedstocks beyond traditional sources while simultaneously creating new markets for organic waste recycling outside current animal feed fuel (biogas) and fertilizer (compost) applications.

 

 

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