BACKGROUND: A platform for the utilization of the Chlorella sp. biomass and sugarcane leaves to produce multiple products (biorefinery concept) including hydrogen, methane, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), lipid, and soil supplement with the goal to achieve the zero waste generation (circular economy) is demonstrated in this study. Microalgal biomass were hydrolyzed by mixed enzymes while sugarcane leaves were pretreated with alkali followed by enzyme. Hydrolysates were used to produce hydrogen and the hydrogenic effluent was used to produce multi-products. Solid residues at the end of hydrogen fermentation and the remaining acidified slurries from methane production were evaluated for the compost properties.
RESULTS: The maximum hydrogen yield of 207.65 mL-H2/g-volatile solid (VS)added was obtained from 0.92, 15.27, and 3.82 g-VS/L of Chlorella sp. biomass hydrolysate, sugarcane leaf hydrolysate, and anaerobic sludge, respectively. Hydrogenic effluent produced 321.1 mL/g-VS of methane yield, 2.01 g/L PHAs concentration, and 0.20 g/L of lipid concentration. Solid residues and the acidified slurries at the end of the hydrogen and methane production process were proved to have compost properties.
CONCLUSION: Hydrogen production followed by methane, PHA and lipid productions is a successful integrated circular biorefinery platform to efficiently utilize the hydrolysates of Chlorella sp. biomass and sugarcane leaf. The potential use of the solid residues at the end of hydrogen fermentation and the remaining acidified slurries from methane production as soil supplements demonstrates the zero waste concept. The approach revealed in this study provides a foundation for the optimal use of feedstock, resulting in zero waste.