Use of microalgal biomass for bioethanol production: Optimization of growing conditions to increase the carbohydrate content
Research theme area:
Biotechnology, Microbiology, Bioprocess Engineering.
This research is part of the Research Center for Greenhouse Gas Innovation (RCGI), project 61 – "Bio-assisted CO2 capture and conversion into bioproducts", authored by Profa. Dr. Elen A. Perpetuo (Coordinator, UNIFESP, Santos, SP) and Profs. Dr. Renato S. Freire and Dr. Cassius V. Stevani (both from IQ-USP, São Paulo, SP), and aims to promote the sustainable production of 3G bioethanol associated with the fixation of carbon dioxide by microalgae.
Fossil fuels are currently the world’s primary energy source. However, with increasing demand for energy comes increasing CO2 emissions resulting in unbalanced natural carbon cycle and subsequent climate change. As an outcome there have been sea levels risen, warmer temperatures and several other ecological and environmental effects harmful to mankind. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have reached a level that brought up to discussion the necessity of negative emissions technologies to hold global warming, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) ones. In this scenario, microalgal biomass is promising for the production of several biofuels to meet the demand for bioenergy, such as biogas, biodiesel and bioethanol. The latter is denominated as third-generation bioethanol, with advantages over firsthand second-generation since it does not require fertile land or potable water. The carbohydrate content in microalgal biomass can be fermented into bioethanol by yeasts, but as its accumulation is related to stressful growth conditions it requires optimization of these conditions not to compromise biomass yield. The major demand of bioethanol production is the transportation sector, which will eventually convert it back to CO2 in the atmosphere after combustion, creating a sustainable chain of negative emissions since microalgae can use atmospheric CO2 to perform photosynthesis and restart the bioethanol production chain.
The applicant will contribute in line with the main objectives of the project:
1. Cultivation of photosynthetic microorganisms;
2. Optimization of culturing conditions to analyse the influence of nutrient deficiency (N, P) and light intensity on carbohydrate accumulation and microalgal biomass yield;
3. Carbohydrate characterization through colorimetry and chromatography techniques;
4. Microalgal biomass hydrolysis for obtainment of fermentable sugars;
5. Biomass hydrolysate fermentation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
6. Determination of ethanol yield.
Requirements to fill the position.
This Post-Doctoral Fellowship is suitable for a candidate with experience in bioprocesses, biotechnology, and environmental microbiology, in the prospection of microorganisms, preparation of solutions and culture media, microorganisms’ cultivation in shake flasks and bioreactor, besides knowledge of analytical techniques such as spectrophotometry, liquid chromatography, and gas chromatography. Proficiency in English and ability to collaborate and develop your work in large teams are required.
The candidate must have obtained the Ph.D. degree less than one year ago, with an excellent graduate school record.
Areas of interest: Chemistry, Biology or Chemical Engineering
INFORMATION ABOUT FELLOWSHIP:
This Postdoc fellowship is funded by FUSP. The fellowship will cover a standard maintenance stipend of R$ 7.373,10 per month.
Position: Post-Doctoral REF: 21PDR143
https://www.rcgi.poli.usp.br/opportunities-aplication/ AND APPLICATION AT REF 21PDR143 – Post Doctoral