(199i) Process Design for Conversion of Coconut Coir Pith to Bioplastic and Byproducts

Authors: 
Ramaswamy, S., University of Minnesota
Huang, H., University of Minnesota
Ramarao, B. V., ESPRI, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Kasinathan, R., SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Haug, E., University of Minnesota
Reyes Gaibor, F., University of Minnesota
Popescu, P., University of Minnesota
Papadakis, A., University of Minnesota
Coconut Coir Pith (CCP) is a widely available biorenewable resource especially in coconut growing regions of the world. Coconut coir is the fibrous material that makes up a coconut husk and can be used to make variety of products.This is a rich source of lignocellulose which can be converted to value added renewable bioproducts. Bio Plastics such as Poly Hydroxy Alkanoates (PHA) are sustainable plastic materials that are bio degradable and can be manufactured from biorenewable resources. It is possible to use coconut coir pith as a raw material for PHA thus providing significant value addition to coconut coir industries. Here we present a process design and technical and economic analysis of effectively converting the waste CCP into useful bioplastics and lignin biopolymer residue. Bioplastic (PHA) can be obtained from the cellulose and hemicellulose in CCP and the residual lignin biopolymer can be used for other applications. The process steps for the conversion of CCP include: Pretreatment of CCP to improve accessibility of cellulose; Enzymatic hydrolysis of pretreated CCP to produce fermentable sugars; Bioconversion of the sugar stream into bioplastics using genetically engineered proprietary strains to give PHAs at high yields and tailored quality; Separation and purification of PHA bioplastic as well as solid biomass residue containing lignin biopolymer as a value added byproduct. Process design and analysis include: Process flow diagram and material and energy balances of the overall process system including various unit operations; Process equipment and sizing; Economic analysis showing profitability and recommendations for small scale facility.