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Keywords:

  • energy;
  • environmental engineering;
  • fermentation;
  • mathematical modeling;
  • green engineering

Abstract

An innovative approach to increase biofuel feedstock lipid yields from municipal sewage sludge via manipulation of carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio and glucose loading in activated sludge bioreactors was investigated. Sludge lipid and fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) yields (% cell dry weight, CDW) were enhanced via cultivation in activated sludge bioreactors operated at high initial C:N ratio (≥40:1) and glucose loading (≥40 g L−1). Under C:N 70, 60 g L−1 glucose loading, a maximum of 17.5 ± 3.9 and 10.2 ± 2.0% CDW lipid and biodiesel yields, respectively, were achieved after 7 d of cultivation. The cultured sludge lipids contained mostly C16[BOND]C18 fatty acids, with oleic acid consistently accounting for 40–50% of the total fatty acids. Microbial composition in activated sludge exposed to C:N 70 shifted toward specific gammaproteobacteria, suggesting their relevance in lipid production in wastewater microbiota and potential value in biofuel synthesis applications. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012