Glycerol is a by-product in the biodiesel production process and considered as one of the prospective carbon sources for microbial fermentation including lactic acid fermentation, which has received considerable interest due to its potential application. Enterococcus faecalis isolated in our laboratory produced optically pure l-lactic acid from glycerol in the presence of acetic acid. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis using [1, 2-13C2] acetic acid proved that the E. faecalis strain QU 11 was capable of converting acetic acid to ethanol during lactic acid fermentation of glycerol. This indicated that strain QU 11 restored the redox balance by oxidizing excess NADH though acetic acid metabolism, during ethanol production, which resulted in lactic acid production from glycerol. The effects of pH control and substrate concentration on lactic acid fermentation were also investigated. Glycerol and acetic acid concentrations of 30 g/L and 10 g/L, respectively, were expected to be appropriate for lactic acid fermentation of glycerol by strain QU 11 at a pH of 6.5. Furthermore, fed-batch fermentation with 30 g/L glycerol and 10 g/L acetic acid wholly exhibited the best performance including lactic acid production (55.3 g/L), lactic acid yield (0.991 mol-lactic acid/mol-glycerol), total yield [1.08 mol-(lactic acid and ethanol)]/mol-(glycerol and acetic acid)], and total carbon yield [1.06 C-mol-(lactic acid and ethanol)/C-mol-(glycerol and acetic acid)] of lactic acid and ethanol. In summary, the strain QU 11 successfully produced lactic acid from glycerol with acetic acid metabolism, and an efficient fermentation system was established without carbon loss.
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