Towards multi-purpose biorefinery platforms for the valorisation of red grape pomace: production of polyphenols, volatile fatty acids, polyhydroxyalkanoates and biogas
The development of a multi-purpose four step-cascading biorefinery scheme for the valorization of red grape pomace (GP) was proposed. The consecutive processes were respectively dedicated to (a) the recovery of polyphenols by supercritical CO2 extraction, (b) the production of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) by anaerobic acidogenic digestion, (c) the exploitation of produced VFAs as the precursors for the biotechnological production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) and (d) the production of a CH4-rich biogas by the anaerobic digestion of solid leftovers from the acidogenic process. More than 2.7 g of total polyphenols (as gallic acid equivalents) per 100 g of dry matter were extracted. A high content of valuable proanthocyanidins occurred in the recovered polyphenolic fraction. The dephenolized GP was anaerobically digested under batch acidogenic conditions, obtaining about 20 g L−1 of total VFAs in the liquid effluent. The latter matrix was employed to feed a pure culture of a Cupriavidus necator strain, which was induced to produce and store PHAs under nitrogen-limiting conditions. The process was carried out in 0.5 L-shake flasks by using a two-step production approach. In particular, pre-grown biomass was fed with different concentrations of the acidic effluent (20 or 40% v/v) in two sequential batch processes. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) was accumulated up to 63% of the cells dry weight when pre-grown biomass was fed with 40% of the acidic effluent. No inhibitory effects due to non-VFA compounds occurring in the actual acidogenic effluent were observed. Finally, the anaerobic digestion of the exhausted solid fraction from the acidogenic process allowed obtaining 113 mL of biomethane per gram of fed volatile solids.