Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 225–233 | Cite as

Efficient production of 1,3-propanediol from fermentation of crude glycerol with mixed cultures in a simple medium

  • Donna DietzEmail author
  • An-Ping Zeng
Original Paper


The objective of this study was to examine the applicability of mixed cultures for 1,3-propanediol (1,3-PDO) production from crude glycerol. Three different sources of mixed cultures were tested, where the mixed culture from a municipal wastewater treatment plant showed the best results. 1,3-PDO can be produced as the main product in this mixed culture with typical organic acids like acetic and butyric acids as by-products. The yield was in the range of 0.56–0.76 mol 1,3-PDO per mol glycerol consumed depending on the glycerol concentration. A final product concentration as high as 70 g/L was obtained in fed-batch cultivation with a productivity of 2.6 g/L h. 1,3-PDO can be kept in the culture several days after termination of the fermentation without being degraded. Degradation tests showed that 1,3-PDO is degraded much slower than other compounds in the fermentation broth. In comparison to 1,3-PDO production in typical pure cultures, the process developed in this work with a mixed culture achieved the same levels of product titer, yield and productivity, but has the decisive advantage of operation under complete non-sterile conditions. Moreover, a defined fermentation medium without yeast extract can be used and nitrogen gassing can be omitted during cultivation, leading to a strong reduction of investment and production costs.


Mixed cultures 1,3-propanediol Crude glycerol Non-sterile Anaerobic degradation Biogas 



This work was financially supported by 7th Framework research program of the European Union through the project Propanergy (grant agreement no. 212671). We thank the project partners, especially Mr. Klaus Rohbrecht-Buck and Mr. Ralf Gabler from the company BKW Fürstenwalde for their help and support in the pilot plant fermentation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Bioprocess and Biosystems EngineeringHamburg University of TechnologyHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik (ATB)PotsdamGermany

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