We propose the bioproduction of a bioflocculant from lower-molecular fatty acids as an innovative strategy for utilizing waste sludge digestion liquor. Fundamental studies on the production, characterization and application of a novel bioflocculant were performed. Citrobacter sp. TKF04 was screened out of 1,564 natural isolates as a bacterial strain capable of a bioflocculant from acetic and propionic acids. TKF04 produced the bioflocculant during the logarithmic growth in the batch cultivation, and it could be recovered from the culture supernatant by ethanol precipitation. The fed-batch cultivation with feeding of acetic acid: ammonium 10;1 (mole) to maintain pH 8.5 led to the hyper-production of the bioflocculant. The bioflocculant was found to be effective for flocculating a kaolin suspension, when added at a final concentration of 1-10 mg/l, over a wide range of pHs (2-8) and temperatures (3-95°C), while the addition of cations was not required. It could flocculate a variety of inorganic and organic suspended particles including kaolin, diatomite, bentonite, activated carbon, soil and activated sludge. These indicated that the bioflocculant possesses flocculating activity comparable or superior to that of synthetic flocculants. The bioflocculation was identified as a chitosan-like biopolymer.

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