Innovative and sustainable production of biopolymers

Principal Investigator: Anna Luisa Costa

Starting date: 01/01/2014
Duration: 12 months
Total grant: 150 000 €
Call/Action: Progetto Bandiera – “La Fabbrica del Futuro” – Piattaforma Manifatturiera Nazionale” – FdF SP2-T4.14.1 “Tecnologie e Metodologie per la Fabbrica sostenibile”
Consortium: 2 Research Institutes of CNR (ISMAC, ITIA), University of Bologna and 2 companies
Coordinator: Anna Luisa Costa (CNR-ISTEC)

The main objective of the PROBIOPOL project is the development of methodologies and tools to support the design and management of sustainable processes for the production of biodegradable polyhydroxyalcanoates (PHAs) biopolymers. PHAs are linear polyesters produced in nature by bacteria through aerobic fermentation of many carbon sources, completely biodegradable and biocompatible. PROBIOPOL project will develop a new, cost-effective and environmental sustainable technology for isolating PHAs from bacteria mixed cultures by combining:

  • Catalytic tools – Innovative cells’ pre-treatments and polymer purification’s strategy by means of TiO2/UV or Ag0 nano-phases supported on process compatible substrates.
  • Org chem tools – Polymer extraction methodology through a green and safe system, combining the advantages of solvent extraction and these of dissolution of the non-PHAs cellular matrix through surfactants.
  • Automation tools – Automation tools for process energy and efficiency management.


The work plan of the PROBIOPOL project has been broken down into three main RTD work packages (WPs 2, 3 and 4) and one work package dedicated to the scientific and administrative management of the project (WP1).

WP2 aims to optimize the process of production and extraction of biodegradable biopolymers (polyhydroxyalkanoates, PHAs) from microbial cultures, optimizing chemical and biological parameters and integrating innovative solutions for: bacteria feed and treatment, PHAs extraction steps and process engineering and automation.
WP3 is addressed to the design of TiO2 and Ag0 based nanostructured materials suitable to be applied into bacteria pre and post treatments. A physicochemical and functional characterization of antibacterial active components in real conditions will allow the optimization and integration of innovative bacteria treatments.
WP4 will develop a monitoring and control solution, selecting appropriate sensors and actuators automation tools for process energy and efficiency management optimization.


  • University of Bologna (Chemistry Department “G. Ciamician”)
  • SOFTER S.p.A.
  • BIOSHERE S.r.l.