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DESIGN AND SCALE-UP OF A BIOPROCESS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF NATURAL VANILLIN FROM AGRICULTURAL BY-PRODUCTS

Objective

The objectives of the AGRO-VANILLIN project are focused on the design and scale-up of an industrial biotechnological process for transformation of agricultural by-products to high added-value natural vanillin.

Vanillin is the flavour most universally used in the food industry and also in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors; more than 80% of the vanillin produced is artificial. This non-food valorisation, as flavours are considered as additives but not as food, will be realised on the basis on the experience and results obtained at the laboratory level in the previous "Agriculture and Agro-Industry including Fisheries" RTD programme AIR1-CT92-026. The previous project has led to very significant and very original results which are of a prime importance. This project fits into Area 2 Scaling-Up and Processing Methodologies; it will address all problems associated with the transfer of basic research to industrial scale. It will be more focused on Subarea 2.2. Bioprocessing and 2.3. Control System and will be divided into four phases.
PHASE A: Preparation of fermentation feed stock by fractionation of agricultural
plant cell walls. The scale-up of the methodologies of enzymatic/biological fractionation and separation of agricultural byproducts, especially those rich in ferulic acid such as wheat and maize brans and sugar-beet pulp, will be investigated in order to prepare, in cheap and environmental friendly conditions, high amounts of fermentation feedstocks for vanillin overproduction: (i) ferulic acid-rich fractions or ferulic acid in a pure form which will be afterwards directly biotransformed into vanillin, (ii) co-products which are extremely important for the economy of the process, xylose (as carbon source) and cellobiose (as activator of the vanillin pathway) .
PHASE B: Modifications of fungal pathways for vanillin overproduction. Identification
and amplification of essential cellular mechanisms involved in biotransformation of ferulic acid to vanillin will be actlieved in Aspergillus niger and Pycnoporus cinnabarinus in order to improve levels of vanillin productivity.
PHASE C: Industrial fermentation process scale-up. Studies of bioreactor design
suitable for filamentous fungi (such as comparison of pneumatic versus mechanically-agitated bireactor, control of fungal pelleting, characterisation of fermentation conditions, determination of optimal feeding strategies), continuous vanillin extraction system, new monitoring techniques and advanced control methodologies will be developed for the optimisation of an industrial unit for natural vanillin production.
PHASE D: Authentication and labelling of Biotechnological vanillin. The aim of this
study is to characterise the biotechnological vanillin extracts from different agricultural
sources by isotopic mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance, in order to
authenti cate this new product to obtain the "natural label". To achieve these objectives, the proposed project has been constructed with an integrated multidisciplinary approach combining complementary industrial producers and users in close association with academics. The academic partners will work on more basic points which are not completely solved, where as industrial producers of enzymes and fractions of raw material, processing and fermentation companies will be directly involved in the scale-up. A company specialised in the flavour business is also involved with the aim to authenticate and label this biotechnological vanillin in order to create a new market for this flavour of natural origin.

Coordinator

PERNOD-RICARD S.A.
Address
Av. Du Marechal Foch, 120
94015 Creteil
France

Participants (4)

BBSRC Institute of Food Research
United Kingdom
Address
Norwich Research Park Colney Lane
NR4 7UA Norwich
I.N.R.A.
France
Address
Av. De Luminy, 163 - C.p. 925
13288 Marseille Cedex 9
Recordati Industria Chimica e Farmaceutica SpA
Italy
Address
S.s.11 Padana Superiore Km. 160
20060 Cassina De Pecchi Milano
UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN
Belgium
Address
Av. Georges Lemaitre, 4 - Bat. Euler
1348 Louvain-la-neuve