Massive production and disposal of petrochemical derived plastics represent relevant environmental problems. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are a renewable alternative that can even be produced from wastes. The production of PHA from acetate using mixed microbial cultures was studied. The effect of two key operational conditions was evaluated, i.e., substrate concentration and cycle length. The effects of these factors on several responses were studied using a surface response methodology. Several reactors were operated under selected conditions for at least 10 solids retention times to ensure stable operation. Results show that conditions providing higher PHA content involve lower biomass productivities. This has a great impact on biomass production costs. Results suggest then that PHA content alone may not be a reasonable criterion for determining optimal conditions for PHB production. If production costs need to be reduced, conditions that provide a lower PHA content in the selection reactor, but a higher biomass productivity may be of interest.
- Mixed microbial cultures