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Microorganisms 2016, 4(1), 11; doi:10.3390/microorganisms4010011

The Opportunity for High-Performance Biomaterials from Methane

Centre for Solid Waste Bioprocessing, School of Civil Engineering and School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
Advanced Water Management Centre, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Willy Verstraete
Received: 20 November 2015 / Revised: 15 January 2016 / Accepted: 22 January 2016 / Published: 3 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Resource Management)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [993 KB, uploaded 4 February 2016]   |  


Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymers are widely recognised as outstanding candidates to replace conventional petroleum-derived polymers. Their mechanical properties are good and can be tailored through copolymer composition, they are biodegradable, and unlike many alternatives, they do not rely on oil-based feedstocks. Further, they are the only commodity polymer that can be synthesised intracellularly, ensuring stereoregularity and high molecular weight. However, despite offering enormous potential for many years, they are still not making a significant impact. This is broadly because commercial uptake has been limited by variable performance (inconsistent polymer properties) and high production costs of the raw polymer. Additionally, the main type of PHA produced naturally is poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), which has limited scope due to its brittle nature and low thermal stability, as well as its tendency to embrittle over time. Production cost is strongly impacted by the type of the feedstock used. In this article we consider: the production of PHAs from methanotrophs using methane as a cost-effective substrate; the use of mixed cultures, as opposed to pure strains; and strategies to generate a poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) copolymer (PHBV), which has more desirable qualities such as toughness and elasticity. View Full-Text
Keywords: PHA; PHB; PHBV; methane; syngas methanotroph; gas fermentation; biopolymer PHA; PHB; PHBV; methane; syngas methanotroph; gas fermentation; biopolymer

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Strong, P.J.; Laycock, B.; Mahamud, S.N.S.; Jensen, P.D.; Lant, P.A.; Tyson, G.; Pratt, S. The Opportunity for High-Performance Biomaterials from Methane. Microorganisms 2016, 4, 11.

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