Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 211-226

First online:

Selective Enrichment of a Methanol-Utilizing Consortium Using Pulp and Paper Mill Waste Streams

  • Gregory R. MockosAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Davis
  • , William A. SmithAffiliated withBiological Sciences Department, Idaho National Laboratory
  • , Frank J. LogeAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Davis
  • , David N. ThompsonAffiliated withBiological Sciences Department, Idaho National Laboratory Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Efficient utilization of carbon inputs is critical to the economic viability of the current forest products sector. Input carbon losses occur in various locations within a pulp mill, including losses as volatile organics and wastewater. Opportunities exist to capture this carbon in the form of value-added products such as biodegradable polymers. Waste-activated sludge from a pulp mill wastewater facility was enriched for 80 days for a methanol-utilizing consortium with the goal of using this consortium to produce biopolymers from methanol-rich pulp mill waste streams. Five enrichment conditions were utilized: three high-methanol streams from the kraft mill foul condensate system, one methanol-amended stream from the mill wastewater plant, and one methanol-only enrichment. Enrichment reactors were operated aerobically in sequencing batch mode at neutral pH and 25°C with a hydraulic residence time and a solids retention time of 4 days. Non-enriched waste activated sludge did not consume methanol or reduce chemical oxygen demand. With enrichment, however, the chemical oxygen demand reduction over 24-h feed/decant cycles ranged from 79 to 89%, and methanol concentrations dropped below method detection limits. Neither the non-enriched waste-activated sludge nor any of the enrichment cultures accumulated polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) under conditions of nitrogen sufficiency. Similarly, the non-enriched waste activated sludge did not accumulate PHAs under nitrogen-limited conditions. By contrast, enriched cultures accumulated PHAs to nearly 14% on a dry weight basis under nitrogen-limited conditions. This indicates that selectively enriched pulp mill waste activated sludge can serve as an inoculum for PHA production from methanol-rich pulp mill effluents.


Foul condensate Waste-activated sludge Polyhydroxyalkanoates Pulp mill Natural fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite