Lactic Acid

Biobased lactic Acid: Biobased Building Block

What is biobased lactic acid?

Biobased lactic acid is a chemical which is produced by carbohydrate fermentation. The fermentation process is carried out by various Lactobacillus strains rather than by chemical means. Lactic acid, like succinic acid, is a base material for biobased products which is intended to offset the petroleum use. Lactic acid can be used to make a variety of products which include poly lactic acid, propylene glycol, and lactate esters. Poly lactic acid, or PLA, is a useful homopolymer of lactic acid involved in plastics and other material production. Lactate esters are used for biodegradable and nontoxic solvents. Propylene glycol is commonly used as a de-icer and as antifreeze.

How is lactic acid made?

Lactic acid is made through the fermentation processes of Lactobacillus. Carbohydrates are processed to yield a lactic acid broth in four to six days. Once finished, separation and purification techniques are used to remove the neutralizing salt from the mix. This results in the production of lactide which can be later converted to lactic acid. The use of organism fermentation pathways yield a high optical purity lactic acid which is unobtainable through synthetic chemical means.

References:

Zeikus, J. G., M. K. Jain, and P. Elankovan. “Biotechnology of Succinic Acid Production and Markets.” Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 51.5 (1999): 545-52.

Carole, Tracy M., Joan Pellegrino, and Mark D. Paster. “Opportunities in the Industrial Biobased Products Industry.” Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 115.1-3 (2004): 871-85.

Willke, and Vorlop. “Industrial Bioconversion of Renewable Resources as an Alternative to Conventional Chemistry.” Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 66.2 (2004): 131-42.

Elliott, Douglas C. “Chemicals from Biomass.” Encyclopedia of Energy 1 (2004): 163-74.