Biotechnological solutions to create a more sustainable future
Nature’s Principles, a TU Delft spin-off, aims to develop biotechnological solutions that enable the biobased economy, reduce waste production and reduce carbon emissions. The company builds on the pivotal role lactate has in the biobased circular economy and focuses on scaling up ecology-based L-lactate production by converting food waste, biological feedstocks and agricultural residues.
The developed technologies rely on selecting mixed cultures or microbial communities to perform a desired conversion, using a selective pressure. Such ecology-based processes have several advantages over pure culture technologies, as they are generally easier to operate and easily scalable. Thus, while low value feedstocks are used and higher value products are produced, their technology can offer a significant cost advantage.
Intellectual property was recently published as WO2020229370A2 High Yield Lactic acid production using mixed cultures.
The TTT Circular Technology program provided Nature’s Principles with a Proof of Concept ticket, which enabled the company to do a successful validation. A sufficiently high product yield was achieved with “real” substrates (around 70%) and better understanding of the process performance in relation to temperature was achieved. Furthermore, a production process modelling in SuperProDesign was done, translating this into an initial, bottom-up, business case for the production of 80% pure Lactic Acid at industrial scale (140kT per annum).
The next steps are to expand the production process beyond the fermentation step, to also include the downstream processing. This will be done on lab-scale first before moving to pilot scale, to prove the cost advantage in the end-to-end process i.e. in the final lactic acid product. Following the lab phase a pilot scale phase will follow in 2021/2022 (e.g. 1000 liter fermentor). For this project various partners will join forces with Nature’s Principle; Dutch Sustainable Development B.V. (a feedstock partner) and Corbion (an industrial partner). The TTT ticket will enable Nature’s Principles to carry out these activities and thus bridge the gap towards the pilot phase.