Comparison of Citric Acid Production by Solid-State Fermentation in Flask, Column, Tray, and Drum Bioreactors

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Studies were conducted to evaluate citric acid production by solid-state fermentation (SSF) using cassava bagasse as substrate employing a fungal culture of Aspergillus niger LPB 21 at laboratory and semipilot scale. Optimization of the process parameters temperature, pH, initial humidity, aeration, and nutritive composition was conducted in flasks and column fermentors. The results showed that thermal treatment of cassava bagasse enhanced fungal fermentation efficacy, resulting in 220 g of citric acid/kg of dry cassava bagasse with only treated cassava bagasse as substrate. The results obtained from the factorial experimental design in a column bioreactor showed that an aeration rate of 60 mL/min (3 mL/[g·min]) and 60% initial humidity were optimum, resulting in 265.7 g/kg of dry cassava bagasse citric acid production. This was almost 1.6 times higher than the quantities produced under unoptimized conditions (167'.4 g of citric acid/kg of dry cassava bagasse). The defined parameters were transferred to semipilot scale, which showed high promise for large-scale citric acid production by SSF with cassava bagasse. Respirometry assays were carried out in order to follow indirectly the biomass evolution of the process. Citric acid production reached 220, 309, 263, and 269 g/kg of dry cassava bagasse in Erlenmeyer flasks, column fermentors, a tray bioreactor, and a horizontal drum bioreactor, respectively.

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