The biodegradable family of polymers polyhydroxyalkanoates is an interesting substitute for convectional fossil-based plastics. However, the manufacturing and environmental impacts associated with their production via intracellular bacterial fermentation are strongly dependent on the raw material used and on energy consumption during the extraction process, limiting their potential for commercialization. Industrial wastewater is studied in this paper as a promising alternative feedstock for waste valorization. Based on results from laboratory and pilot-scale experiments, a conceptual process design, techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment are developed for the large-scale production of the most common type of polyhydroxyalkanoate, polyhydroxbutyrate. Intracellular polyhydroxybutyrate is obtained via fermentation of microbial community present in industrial wastewater and the downstream processing is based on chemical digestion with surfactant and hypochlorite. The economic potential and environmental performance results help identifying bottlenecks and best opportunities to scale-up the process prior to industrial implementation. The outcome of this research indicates that the fermentation of wastewater towards PHB presents advantages compared to traditional PHAs production from sugars because the null environmental burdens and financial costs of the raw material in the bioplastic production process. Nevertheless, process optimization is still required to compete with the petrochemicals counterparts.
According to synthetic plastics obtained from petroleum cause some environmental problems. Therefore, degradable plastics become widely used and studied for replacing the synthetic plastic waste. A biopolymer of poly hydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV) is subgroups of a main kind of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Naturally, PHBV is hard, brittle and low flexible while natural rubber (NR) is high elastic latex. Then, they are blended and the biodegradation of the blended PHBV and NR films were examined in soil environment. The results showed that the degradation occurs predominantly in the bulk of the samples. The order of biodegradability was shown as follows: PHBV> PHBV/NR> NR. After biodegradation, the blended films were characterized by appearance analysis such as Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). It was found that the biodegradation mainly occurred at the polymer surface.