Impact of phosphate limitation on PHA production in a feast-famine process

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Double-limitation systems have shown to induce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) production in chemostat studies limited in e.g. carbon and phosphate. In this work the impact of double substrate limitation on the enrichment of a PHA producing community was studied in a sequencing batch process. Enrichments at different C/P concentration ratios in the influent were established and the effect on the PHA production capacity and the enrichment community structure was investigated. Experimental results demonstrated that when a double substrate limitation is imposed at a C/P ratio in the influent in a range of 150 (C-mol/mol), the P-content of the biomass and the specific substrate uptake rates decreased. Nonetheless, the PHA storage capacity remained high (with a maximum of 84 wt%). At a C/P ratio of 300, competition in the microbial community is based on phosphate uptake, and the PHA production capacity is lost. Biomass specific substrate uptake rates are a linear function of the cellular P-content, offering advantages for scaling-up the PHA production process due to lower oxygen requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-480
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Double substrate limitation
  • Feast-famine regime
  • Mixed microbial cultures
  • Specific conversion rates

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