Future trends

Key technologies that drive new product development from vegetable oil wastes are based mainly on genetic engineering, that is the use of new organisms and new crops with good yields that can be purified to make many of the new products possible. Another important aspect is related to computer-controlled processing. The new processes can be run as a batch or continuous process with less manpower and under tighter limits that give optimum yields. The use of membrane separations with tightly controlled pore sizes, or that are functionalized to allow separation according to other properties, makes purification of natural products much easier. In addition, the use of chromatographic resins can become very important. In most cases, if the separation can be done in the laboratory liquid chromatograph, then it can be done in the plant. Furthermore, enzymes and precious metal catalyst allow for quick reactions and good yields.

The advantage of using new systems of vegetable oil processing such as the two-phase extraction olive oil system relies on the production of a solid by-product that can be dried and extracted by solvent. The new DOR can be used for cogeneration of electric power, used in combination with sap-robic fungi for the removal of monomeric phenols.

A special innovative aspect of oil waste management is the biotechno-logical production of biopolymers. Polyhydroxyalcanoates (PHAs) can be produced with microorganisms and processed to bioplastics. Some microorganisms store biopolyesters (2-10% of their dry matter) as granular reserve material in the cells. However, if the supply of N, P, S, Mg2+ or oxygen for growth was limited, the biopolymers contributed up to 80% of the cell dry weight (Young Baek Kim and Lenz, 2001). Economic biotech-nological plastic production depends on highly productive microorganisms and on low-cost substrates. Microorganisms with a high PHA productivity are available and the biochemical and molecular bases for PHA enrichment have been investigated in detail (Steinbuchel and Hein, 2001). To replace expensive glucose as a substrate, agroindustrial carbohydrate-rich byproducts from sugar production, molasses or oily compounds such as glyc-erol (from biodiesel production), have been used as glucose substitutes or co-substrates for biopolymer production. If fatty acids were supplemented, the products of P-oxidation served as intermediates for PHA formation. If saturated and unsaturated fatty acids were mixed for esterification by the microorganisms, co-polymers with elastic properties were formed by the microorganisms (Young Baek Kim and Lenz, 2001). To reduce production costs for biopolymers, fermented fruit and vegetable residues (consisting mainly of fatty acids) were supplied as a carbon source for the microorganisms (Nonato et al., 2001). However, 'Viopol', a co-polymer of hydroxybu-tyrate and hydroxyvalerate, was produced commercially by Zeneca with glucose as a sole carbon source and was marketed as packaging material. New uses of wastes from vegetable oil processing include:

1. Vitamin C. A new two-stage fermentation-based process that produces 2-keto-gulonic acid, which is then chemically converted to vitamin C.

2. Biotin. This is a new fermentation-based product from a genetically engineered organism.

3. Isoleucine. This is the next critical amino acid for feeds. A new genetically engineered organism is nearing completion.

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