Palm oil is a major source for fatty acids, but sustainability issues cause growing opposition towards this feedstock. We would like to support industries that are willing to switch to sustainable resources for palm oil production. Oleaginous microorganisms are able to convert (agricultural) side streams in microbial oils with a fatty acid composition similar to palm oil. We intend to build a consortium covering the complete value chain from agri-food side stream suppliers to commercial scale fermentation and downstream processing partners and (end) users, in order to find a sustainable solution.
In this project, the need for sustainable alternatives to palm oil derived fatty acids, such as palmitic and oleic acid, will be addressed by developing fermentation strategies for oleaginous yeasts using waste streams as (primary) feedstock. This is a particular promising approach to suitable palm oil production. By doing so, the project addresses another societal challenge: the use of arable land for non-food products. This strategy will help end-users to obtain renewable products, without creating conflict with food supply or increasing the need for arable land to grow the feedstock. WFBR offers in-house expertise in biorefinery, fermentation development and optimization, down-stream processing, and sustainable chemistry with a strong focus on side stream valorization.
What the project will involve
This project aims at the development of microbial fermentation processes to convert (agri-food) side streams into oils with a fatty acid composition resembling that of palm oil. WFBR has extensive experience in the valorization of side streams by fermentation and the use of oleaginous yeast strains for this purpose. Using appropriate conditions and substrates, oil accumulates to levels over 50% (g/gcdw) with a yield on carbon sources of >0.2 g/g. In addition, molecular biology and fermentation strategies can be explored to modify the fatty acid composition towards the desired end product. Upscaling and subsequent isolation, separation, and purification of the product will be a major focus as well. All together, we offer a complete toolbox to produce fatty acids in a sustainable and economically viable way for application in food, lubricants, and household and personal care products.
Together with industrial partners, Wageningen Food and Biobased Research aims for consortium involving industrial partners which cover a complete value chain, ranging from agri-food side stream suppliers to commercial scale fermentation and downstream processing partners.