CETEC has designed a demonstration scale pilot plant for the biopolymers production process, which has been developed in collaboration with INFO thanks to the grants for the acquisition of scientific and technological equipment necessary for the promotion of activities.
This investment project has included the acquisition of part of the equipment necessary for the installation of a pilot plant for the production of PHA. This type of biopolymers are currently the most environmentally friendly alternative to improve the sustainability and circularity of the industry thanks to their applicability in multiple sectors including: agri-food, packaging, cosmetics, health, construction, etc. R&D.
The design and development of the pilot plant has been carried out to ensure a uniform and suitable environment for the growth of PHA synthesising microorganisms. To this end, it must:
– Distribute evenly throughout the culture volume.
– Maintain constant and uniform temperature.
– Minimise nutrient concentration gradients.
– Supply oxygen at a rate that satisfies optimal oxygen consumption.
– Ability to keep pH constant.
– Possibility to avoid evaporation losses (volume control).
To meet these requirements, a system of 3 bioreactors with a capacity of 3000 L has been installed, equipped with a system for heating the fermentation broth, based on an aerothermal system with low energy consumption, as well as the corresponding agitation systems and air injection into the culture, by means of an aeration system using blowers.
One of the main investments undertaken for this project is the digitalisation of all the systems that are integrated to ensure that the control of the operating conditions remains constant throughout the process (control of oxygen, pH, temperature and volume).
To this end, a series of probes have been used for each parameter, but adapted to be able to measure and withstand the extreme salinity conditions of this type of crop, as well as a monitoring system based on the connection of the control modules of each bioreactor to an automaton that records the data through specific software, developing a digital application to be able to control the automaton.
The start-up of this pilot PHA production facility will make it possible, among other things, to:
– Demonstrate at pilot level the technical and economic feasibility of CETEC’s technological solution to produce PHA.
– To produce significant quantities (level of kilograms) of PHA that allow both its complete characterisation and the production of specific formulations that enable its subsequent application in various industrial sectors (packaging, health, construction, etc.).
– Develop and optimise the technology to allow, under circular economy criteria, the use of agri-food waste as raw materials for the production of PHAs.
– Demonstrate the feasibility of using alternative technologies such as plastic reactors as equipment for low-cost biotechnological processes.
Project Financed by virtue of the Order of 23 December 2022 of the Regional Ministry of Enterprise, Employment, Universities and Spokesperson’s Office which approves the regulatory bases for aid from the Development Institute of the Region of Murcia aimed at the technological centres of the Region of Murcia for the acquisition of scientific-technological equipment for intelligent specialisation and subsequent Call whose extract was published in the BORM no. 2 of 4 January 2023.
The project is financed with a 100% of the investment or eligible expenditure, amounting to 52,530.30 €, 80% of which is co-financed (i.e. up to 42,024.24 €) by the ERDF Global Grant, of which the Instituto de Fomento de la Región de Murcia is the intermediary body.