Lactic acid production: extractive fermentation in aqueous two-phase systems

Jordi Planes

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


There is an increased interest in the microbial production of lactic acid as a raw material for the synthesis of lactic acid polymers as biodegradable plastics. However, two factors limit the economical competitiveness of lactic acid production by microorganisms: lactic acid inhibition, which decreases both fermentation rate and the maximum lactic acid concentration, and the efficiency in the recovery of lactic acid. To minimise these effects, the production of lactic acid by extractive fermentation in aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS) was proposed: the bottom cell-rich phase is continuously recirculated while the product can continuously be removed from the top phase. A chromatographic method for the analysis of phase composition was developed and used to study the factors influencing lactic acid partitioning in ATPS, and to investigate the influence of bacterial cells, lactic acid and phosphate on ATPS. The presence of bacterial cells, lactic acid and phosphate were shown to influence both the shape of the binodial and the slope of the tie lines in the phase diagram. The stability of ATPS in continuous industrial processes is thus compromised by the changing conditions during fermentation. The chromatographic method described facilitates the control of ATPS-based processes. A new family of polymer conjugates was synthesised. Two different polymers carrying distinct attributes were combined to yield a new conjugate which retained the features of the original polymers. The new conjugates are based on polyethylene glycol (PEG) or ethylene oxide (EOPO), and polyethylenimine (PEI). PEG and EOPO furnishes the conjugate the capacity to form ATPS when mixed with polysaccharide polymers like dextran and starch. In the case of the EOPO-based conjugate, its recovery by temperature induced precipitation was achieved. PEI brings to the conjugate the capacity to be used as liquid anion exchanger to be used for the recovery of negatively charged molecules, from small organic acids like lactic acid to proteins. Lactic acid, and other organic acids as well as bovine serum albumin partitioned to the conjugate-rich top phase in EOPO·PEI-dextran ATPS. Furthermore, conditions were identified where the top phases of these systems showed temperature induced precipitation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Applied Microbiology
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1998 May 29
ISBN (Print)91-7874-038-X
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 1998-05-29
Time: 10:15
Place: Lecture hall A, Chemical Center, Lund.

External reviewer(s)

Name: Kula, Maria-Regina
Title: Prof
Affiliation: Germany


Article: I/ Planas J., Rådström P., Tjerneld F. and Hahn-Hägerdal B. (1996)Enhanced production of lactic acid through the use of a novel aqueous two-phase system as an extractive fermentation system.Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 45:737-743.

Article: II/ Planas J., Lefebvre D., Tjerneld F. and Hahn-Hägerdal B. (1997)Analysis of phase composition in aqueous two-phase systems using a two-column chromatographic method.Biotechnology and Bioengineering 54 (4): 303-311

Article: III/ Planas J., Varelas V., Tjerneld F. and Hahn-Hägerdal B. (1998)Amine-based aqueous polymers for the simultaneous titration and extraction of lactic acid in aqueous two-phase systems.Journal of Chromatography: B. In press

Article: IV/ Planas J., Kozlowski A., Milton Harris J., Tjerneld F. and Hahn-Hägerdal B.Novel polymer-polymer conjugates for the recovery of carboxylic acids by extraction with aqueous two-phase systems.Manuscript

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Industrial Biotechnology

Free keywords

  • gel excludion chromatography
  • polyethylenimine
  • ethylene oxide propylene oxide
  • phase forming polymers
  • aqueous two-phase systems
  • extractive fermentation
  • Lactococcus
  • Lactobacillus
  • Mikrobiologi
  • bakteriologi
  • virologi
  • mykologi
  • bacteriology
  • virology
  • mycology
  • Microbiology


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