Development of an economically competitive Trichoderma-based platform for enzyme production: Bioprocess optimization, pilot plant scale-up, techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment

Bioresour Technol. 2022 Sep 23;364:128019. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2022.128019. Online ahead of print.


Despite decades of research and industrial applications of Trichoderma reesei, the development of industrially relevant strains for enzyme production including a low-cost and scalable bioprocess remains elusive. Herein, bioprocess optimization, pilot plant scale-up, techno-economic analysis and life-cycle assessment for enzyme production by an engineered T. reesei strain are reported. The developed bioprocess increased in ∼ 2-fold protein productivity (0.39 g.L-1.h-1) and 1.6-fold FPase activity (196 FPU.L-1.h-1), reducing the fermentation in 4 days. Cultivation in a 65-L pilot plant bioreactor resulted in 54 g.L-1 protein in 7 days, highlighting the robustness and scalability of this bioprocess. Techno-economic analysis indicates an enzyme cost of ∼ 3.2, which is below to the target proposed (4.24 in the NREL/TP-5100-47764 report, while life-cycle assessment shows a carbon footprint reduction of approximately 50% compared to a typical commercial enzyme. This study provides the fundamental knowledge for the design of economically competitive Trichoderma technologies for industrial use.

Keywords: Enzyme cocktail; Life-cycle assessment; Pilot plant scaling up; Techno-economic assessment; Trichoderma reesei RUT-C30.