An economic evaluation of the fermentative production of lactic acid from wheat flour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A process for the fermentative production of lactic acid from whole-wheat flour consisting of starch and bran containing nutrients is presented and an economical evaluation of the lactic acid production cost performed. Bottlenecks were identified and alternative processes were evaluated and compared. The costs of raw material, the sodium hydroxide in the fermentation step, and the conversion of lactate to lactic acid using electrodialysis were found to contribute considerably to the total production cost. Performing the fermentation step as a batchwise step was economically better than continuous fermentation. The lactic acid production cost can be reduced by lowering the pH and/or by recycling the sodium hydroxide produced by electrodialysis to the fermentor. Using higher wheat flour concentrations reduced the lactic acid production cost and numerical optimisation of the process, with respect to the wheat flour concentration, showed that the optimal concentration corresponded to 116 g glucose/l, which resulted in a production cost of 0.833 US$/kg product. A Monte Carlo simulation of the total production cost for this concentration when the investment and operational cost and the price of the raw material were varied showed that the probability that the production cost could be lower than 0.90 or 1.0 US$/kg was 61% or 91%, respectively. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Chemical Engineering


  • lactic acid, economy, process, wheat flour
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-126
JournalBioresource Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Publication categoryResearch