Batch production of biosurfactant with foam fractionation

01 December 2006

Chen, C-Y., Baker, S.C. and Darton, R.C.

Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology Volume 81, Issue 12, pages 1923–1931 DOI: 10.1002/jctb.1625

View Journal Article / Working Paper

Methods of producing the biosurfactant surfactin from cultures of Bacillus subtilis (BBK006) have been investigated. A reactor with integrated foam fractionation was designed and used in batch mode, and the performance compared with that of the same culture in shaken flasks. In the batch reactor, significant foaming occurred between 12.5 h and 14.5 h of culture time. During this period, the foam was routed through the foam fractionation column to a mechanical foam breaker, and a biosurfactant-enriched foamate was collected. Concentration of surfactin in the foamate product was around 50 times greater than that in the culture medium. Using the integrated reactor, 136 mg L?1 of surfactin was produced, significantly more than was achieved in shaken flasks (92 mg L?1). The foam fractionation method allowed a real-time measurement of the rate of surfactin production during growth. This showed that the maximum rate of production occurred at the interphase between log and stationary modes of growth, in contrast to previous work showing that surfactin is exclusively a secondary metabolite. The high value of surfactin yield in relation to biomass (YP/x = 0.262) indicated that surfactin was produced very efficiently by Bacillus subtilis (BBK006) in this integrated bioreactor.