High surface low volume fungal biomass composite

Immobilized microbe composite comprising a porous, high surface area inorganic support using a controlled population of fungus-like microbes secured to the inner surfaces of the pores, the support being water insoluble, non-toxic to the germs, and using a controlled porosity like at least 70% of those pores, onto a pore size distribution basis, have a pore diameter at least as large as the smallest diameter of the fungal spore but less than about sixteen times the largest spore diameter. The composites are especially useful in situations requiring a high biomass surface within a rather compact volume.


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1. Field

This revelation is concerned generally with the attachment and growth of microbes on inorganic surfaces. Particularly, the revelation is concerned with providing a porous inorganic support for the immobilization of a controlled inhabitants offungus-like organisms that reproduce via spores and show mycelial growth, collectively known herein as fungi or fungus-like microbes.

2. Prior Art

The preparation and use of composites consisting of microbes (bacteria, yeast cells, etc.. ) fixed on the surfaces of aid materials is very old and well known. Ordinarily, a film or slime of microbes is permitted to develop over the surfaces of thesupport. The resultant film provides a biomass which, based on the microbes involved, can be used in various practical applications. For example, among those earlier trickling filter fermentation systems entailed using wood shavings or othersupports as a packing material which was put in a container such as a barrel. A liquid raw material had been allowed to trickle through the packing and, sometimes, air was permitted to pass upward through the packing. Since the liquid has been circulated witha simple pump, a film of microbes could form on the surfaces of their packing, thereby leading to a relatively large accumulation of helpful biomass which, based on the type of microbial film (anaerobic or aerobic conditions), might be used to fermentsugars to alcohol (anaerobic) or convert alcohol into fats (aerobic). The latter procedure can be utilized to make vinegar. Early trickling filter methods of that type were commonly referred to as Schuetzenbach generators.

Quite a few versions of that type of fermenting system are well known. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 454,586 into Bachmann which describes a fermenting vat for the cessation of sugar alternatives to many different merchandise. The machine consistsof a flow-through vat comprising a porous packing material. In that patent it had been pointed out that the fermentation”germs” of a liquid substrate appeared to multiply more rapidly within the pores and on the surfaces of the packing compared to when the”germs”were freely floating in the liquid.

Additional microbe support methods describing the use of top surface area microbe supports are revealed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,440,545 (saw dust, alfalfa chops, cut straw, glass beads, stone , etc.); U.S. Pat. No. 3,709,364 (utilization of sand particlesfor sewage treatment); U.S. Pat. No. 3,402,103 (series of baffles at a flow through reactor upon which bacterial movies are formed); and Indian Pat. No. 43542 (utilization of porous particles of pumice as supports for yeast cells). From a sampling of theprior art, it’s fairly clear that others have appreciated certain advantages of using porous, high surface area inorganic substances as supports for microbial movies.

Even though it can be readily appreciated that there exists a relationship between the porosity of a certain support material and the useable surface area the material provides in a specific program, we have found, quite surprisingly, that inthe case of porous supports for fungi and fungus-like microbes, there exists a selection of pore sizes which, vis-a-vis that the microbe size, provides an extremely large surface but very low volume for a high biomass concentration. Details of our findings and theimmobilized microbe composites resulting therefrom are described in detail .

IP reviewed by Plant-Grow agriculture technology news