Abstract: The potential of two alkali-tolerant, lignocellulolytic environmental enrichment cultures to improve the anaerobic fermentation of Ca(OH)2-pre-treated wheat straw was studied. The biomethane potential of pre-treated straw was 36% higher than that of untreated straw. The bioaugmentation of pre-treated straw with the enrichment cultures did not enhance the methane yield, but accelerated the methane production during the first week. In acidogenic leach-bed fermenters, a 61% higher volatile fatty acid (VFA) production and a 112% higher gas production, mainly CO2, were observed when pre-treated instead of untreated straw was used. With one of the two enrichment cultures as the inoculum, instead of the standard inoculum, the VFA production increased by an additional 36% and the gas production by an additional 110%, again mainly CO2. Analysis of the microbial communities in the leach-bed processes revealed similar bacterial compositions in the fermenters with pre-treated straw, which developed independently of the used inoculum. It was suggested that the positive metabolic effects with the enrichment cultures observed in both systems were due to initial activities of the alkali-tolerant microorganisms tackling the alkaline conditions better than the standard inocula, whereas the latter dominated in the long term.
Abstract: Humic compounds are inhibitory to the anaerobic hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass. In this study, the impact of salt addition to mitigate the inhibitory effects of humic compounds was investigated. The experiment was conducted using batch tests to monitor the anaerobic hydrolysis of cellulose in the presence of humic acid. Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron salts were tested separately for their efficiency to mitigate humic acid inhibition. All experiments were done under mesophilic conditions (30 °C) and at pH 7. Methane production was monitored online, using the Automatic Methane Potential Test System. Methane production, soluble chemical oxygen demand and volatile fatty acid content of the samples were measured to calculate the hydrolysis efficiencies. Addition of magnesium, calcium and iron salts clearly mitigated the inhibitory effects of humic acid and hydrolysis efficiencies reached up to 75%, 65% and 72%, respectively, which were similar to control experiments. Conversely, potassium and sodium salts addition did not mitigate the inhibition and hydrolysis efficiencies were found to be less than 40%. Mitigation of humic acid inhibition via salt addition was also validated by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy analyses, which showed the binding capacity of different cations to humic acid.
Abstract: Propionate is the most delicate intermediate during anaerobic digestion as its degradation is thermodynamically unfavorable. To determine its maximum possible degradation rates during anaerobic digestion, a reactor was fed Monday to Friday with an organic loading rate (OLR) of 12/14 kg CODbiowaste·m−3·d−1 plus propionate up to a final OLR of 18 kg COD·m−3·d−1. No feed was supplied on weekends as it was the case in full-scale. To maintain permanently high propionate oxidizing activity (POA), a basic OLR of 3 kg CODpropionate·m−3·d−1 all week + 11 kg CODbiowaste·m−3·d−1 from Monday to Friday was supplied. Finally a reactor was operated with an OLR of 12 kg CODbiowaste·m−3·d−1 from Monday to Friday and 5 kg CODpropionate·m−3·d−1 from Friday night to Monday morning to maintain a constant gas production for permanent operation of a gas engine. The propionate degradation rates (PDRs) were determined for biowaste + propionate feeding. Decreasing PDRs during starvation were analyzed. The POA was higher after propionate supply than after biowaste feeding and decreased faster during starvation of a propionate-fed rather than a biowaste-fed inoculum. Shifts of the propionate-oxidizing and methanogenic community were determined.
Abstract: Tissues in the body are hierarchically structured composite materials with tissue-specific chemical and topographical properties. Here we report the preparation of tissue scaffolds with macroscopic pores generated via the dissolution of a sacrificial supramolecular polymer-based crystal template (urea) from a biodegradable polymer-based scaffold (polycaprolactone, PCL). Furthermore, we report a method of aligning the supramolecular polymer-based crystals within the PCL, and that the dissolution of the sacrificial urea yields scaffolds with macroscopic pores that are aligned over long, clinically-relevant distances (i.e., centimeter scale). The pores act as topographical cues to which rat Schwann cells respond by aligning with the long axis of the pores. Generation of an interpenetrating network of polypyrrole (PPy) and poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS) in the scaffolds yields electroactive tissue scaffolds that allow the electrical stimulation of Schwann cells cultured on the scaffolds which increases the production of nerve growth factor (NGF).
Abstract: A thermoelectric biosensor for the detection of L-glutamate concentration was developed. The thermoelectric sensor is integrated into a micro-calorimeter which measures the heat produced by biochemical reactions. The device contains a single flow channel that is 120 µm high and 10 mm wide with two fluid inlets and one fluid outlet. An antimony-bismuth (Sb-Bi) thermopile with high common mode rejection ratio is attached to the lower channel wall and measures the dynamic changes in the temperature when L-glutamate undergoes oxidative deamination in the presence of glutamate oxidase (GLOD). The thermopile has a Seebeck coefficient of ~7 µV·(m·K)−1. The device geometry, together with hydrodynamic focusing, eliminates the need of extensive temperature control. Layer-by-layer assembly is used to immobilize GLOD on the surface of glass coverslips by alternate electrostatic adsorption of polyelectrolyte and GLOD. The impulse injection mode using a 6-port injection valve minimizes sample volume to 5 µL. The sensitivity of the sensor for glutamate is 17.9 nVs·mM−1 in the linear range of 0–54 mM with an R2 value of 0.9873. The lowest detection limit of the sensor for glutamate is 5.3 mM.