Continuous fermentation of food scraps with constant pH control to produce carboxylic acids



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Global energy demands combined with environmental restrictions are fueling a move to alternative energy sources. Biofuels are formed from biomass; the MixAlco process is one such method. In this work, food scraps are explored as a potential feedstock to the MixAlco process. Batch fermentation with various temperatures, buffers, and pH control methods elucidated the behavior of food scraps during fermentation. The pH and reactor configuration were limiting factors when maximizing production. A fermentor was developed and tested with constant pH control. This resulted in elevated concentration (100 g/L) and selectivity (82%) of desired products. The fermentation resulted in elevated concentrations, but low conversion of solids. The undigested material may serve as a nutrient source for fermenting lignocellulosic feedstocks. Combining various nutrient sources with lignocellulose, such as bagasse, resulted in additional production and further conversion. Multiple nutrient sources were tested resulting in total acid concentration ranging from 20.2 to 34.5 g/L.