The sugar cane industry is the second largest agro-based industry in India and supports nearly 60 million farmers and their families, and produces approximately 100 million tons of solid and liquid waste per year. The huge quantities of waste pose a significant challenge as well as an opportunity. This Innovate UK/BBSRC-DBT-funded project aims to valorise these waste products into renewable transportation fuels and high-value chemicals via innovations in pre-treatment, bio-transformation and process intensification. The developed solutions will make a tangible and significant beneficial impact on the wellbeing of large populations in rural India by directly or indirectly reducing poverty, developing affordable and clean energy, and promoting economic growth.
  • Dates1 October 2018-30 September 2021
  • SponsorInnovate UK, BBSRC, DBT, India
  • PartnersUK: academic partners - Queens University Belfast, University of Nottingham; industrial partners - Green Fuels Research Ltd, Nova Pangaea Technologies. India: academic partners - Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Indian Institute of Petroleum, Vasantdada Sugar Institute; industrial partners - Dhampur Sugar Mills, Lokmangal Agro Industries Ltd, VIVIRA Process Technologies

Progress update

Cranfield University is involved in the bio-production of two platform chemicals, xylitol and succinic acid, from sugar cane bagasse.

Succinic acid (SA): SA production from xylose by Y. lipolytica was examined. To this end, the Y. lipolytica strain was engineered by over-expressing the pentose pathway cassette comprising xylose reductase (XR), xylitol dehydrogenase (XDH) and the xylulose kinase (XK) gene. The recombinant strain exhibited a robust growth on xylose as sole carbon source and produced a substantial amount of SA. For more details, please read the published article in Biotechnology for Biofuels.

Xylitol: The bio-transformation of xylose to xylitol was investigated using Yarrowia lipolytica, an oleaginous yeast, which was firstly grown on glycerol/glucose for the screening of co-substrate, followed by media optimisation in a shake flask, scaling up in a bioreactor and downstream processing of xylitol. For more details, please read the published article in Microbial Cell Factories.

We isolated a xylose assimilating and xylitol accumulating the yeast Pichia fermentans. The wild type strain was subjected to mutagenesis and the mutant strain exhibited better bioconversion efficiency. The xylitol titre and yield obtained with pure xylose were 98.9 g/L and 0.67 g/g, respectively, by mutant strain, while xylitol produced using non-detoxified xylose-rich pre-hydrolysate from sugar cane bagasse was 79.0 g/L with an overall yield of 0.54 g/g. The manuscript is currently under review and will be published soon.

Further information

For further information, please visit the vWa project website.