Producing Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) from Biodiesel-derived Crude Glycerol

A novel fungal fermentation process has been developed which converts crude glycerol, a major byproduct of the biodiesel industry, into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an important omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acid.  Biodiesel production is rising exponentially which is creating an urgent need to develop new markets for large quantities of crude glycerol.  Currently fish oil is the commercial source of EPA but this invention provides an opportunity to economically produce EPA from a microbial source.Preliminary results indicate that this process creates an opportunity to produce economically feasible levels of EPA using a fungal cell culture system that uses crude glycerol as a growth substrate.  Current yields are around 0.4 grams of biomass per gram of crude glycerol.  The impurities contained in crude glycerol have unique beneficial effects which greatly enhances the EPA production level when compared with fungal fermentation on glucose.The resulting fungal biomass contains high levels of EPA, which can easily be extracted, dried and used as an omega-3 fortified food. 
Patent Information:
App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Patent Status
US Utility *United States 12/466,653 8,202,713 5/15/2009 6/19/2012 Issued
For Information, Contact:
Mike Miller
Senior Licensing Manager
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc.
(540) 443-9228
Zhiyou Wen
Sneha Athalye
Agriculture/Process Engineering