Universidad de Alicante

Sustainable production of biofuel (bioethanol) from shellfish waste

Posted by Universidad de AlicanteResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

The research group of Plant Pathology at the University of Alicante has developed a new process by using fungi to produce biofuel (bioethanol) and fungal biomass for agrobiotech use from shellfish waste. It is a sustainable alternative to agroforestry crops currently used. The current technology stands out because it uses chitosan as the sole source of nutrients, and produces bioethanol in profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. The research group is looking for companies or investors partners interested in acquiring this technology for commercial exploitation.

New and innovative aspects

We have developed a new procedure for producing biofuel (ethanol) using shellfish industry waste and nematophagous or entomopathogenic fungi. It is a sustainable non-food alternative to crops or agroforestry waste processed, instead of the traditional fermentation processes.

Main advantages of its use

  • Fungi can grow under high chitosan concentrations (more than 2 mg/ml), which are toxic to other microorganisms conditions, thus reducing culture contamination.
  • Fungi use chitosan as a sole source of nutrients.
  • Fungi produce a large amount of reducing sugars which are fermented into ethanol.
  • Fungi can grow under anaerobic conditions.
  • Fungi are able to tolerate the amount of ethanol that they themselves produce in the culture medium (no self-inhibition occurs).
  • Fungi encode in their genomes zinc-dependent alcohol dehydrogenases and pyruvate decarboxylases that are required to produce ethanol.
  • Fungi produce ethanol and fungal biomass from chitosan rich residues of the shellfish industry, thus reducing pollution they cause.
  • The process is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
  • It is profitable process.


We have developed a novel process for producing biofuel (bioethanol) and fungal biomass for sustainable crop pest management as by-product. This novel process can use waste from the shellfish industry (or other sources of chitin or chitosan), as an alternative raw material to the use of crops or agroforestry residues. Our process is a sustainable way to eliminate the pollution caused by shellfish waste.  We use nematophagous and entomopathogenic fungi which are able to grow efficiently in anaerobiosis, producing ethanol from the reducing sugars obtained from chitosan, chitin or their derivatives (produced as a result of the degradation of the shellfish industry waste). These nematophagous and entomopathogenic fungi are:

  • Pochonia chlamydosporia.
  • Beauveria bassiana.
  • Metarhizium anisopliae.

Fungi (as conidia and chlamydospores) are at given concentrations that allow rapid and abundant growth without producing self-inhibition.


This technology is part of the field of Biotechnology . It is a novel process for ethanol and fungal biomass production as by-product using entomopathogenic and nematophagous fungi and a source of chitosan.


  • Biofuel production (bioethanol) as an alternative to ethanol produced by fermentation processes (using yeast) from plant as raw material.
  • Production of fungal biomass for sustainable crop protection.               
  • Biodegradation and decontamination of shellfish industry waste (the high nitrogen content of this waste leads eutrophication, so that its uncontrolled disposal has serious environmental problems).

Intellectual property status

The present invention is protected through 3 patent applications:

Patent 1:

  • Tittle: “Procedimiento para la producción de bioetanol a partir de quitosano mediante el uso del hongo nematófago Pochonia chlamydosporia”.
  • Application number: P201530552.
  • Application date: 27th April 2015.

Patent 2:

  • Tittle: “Procedimiento para la producción de bioetanol a partir de quitosano mediante el uso del hongo entomopatógeno Metarhizium anisopliae”.
  • Application number: P201530894.
  • Date of Application: 27th April 2015.

Patent 3:

  • Tittle: “Procedimiento para la producción de bioetanol a partir de quitosano mediante el uso del hongo entomopatógeno Beauveria bassiana”.
  • Application number: P201530895.
  • Date of Application: 27th April 2015.

Current development status

We have obtained under laboratory conditions up to 2% ethanol by growing aerobic and anaerobically nematophagous and entomopathogenic fungi (Pochonia chlamydosporia, Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae) with chitosan as only nutrient source.

The research group has the know-how  to scale-up and improve their results to pre-industrial level to show their full potential and profitability.

Desired business relationship

Companies or investors partners interested in acquiring this technology for commercial exploitation through:

  • License agreement of the patents.
  • Search for funding opportunities to develop new applications adapted to the specific needs of the company.
  • Technology and knowledge transfer agreements. 
  • Technical reports and scientific advice services.
  • Standardization, calibration, development of national and international technical standards.
  • Provide technical support in those techniques that require highly skilled personnel or sophisticated instruments that are not available for the applicant. 
  • Staff exchange for defined time periods (eg. for learning a technique).
  • Rental own equipment to customers who wish to conduct their own tests (through own infrastructure of the Department of Marine Sciences and Applied Biology or Common Research Facilities (SSTTI) at the University of Alicante).

Related keywords

  • Solid biomass
  • Liquid biofuels
  • Bioprocesses
  • Renewable Sources of Energy
  • Biochemistry / Biophysics Technology
  • Microbiology Market
  • Biomass and Biofuels
  • Alternative Energy
  • biofuel
  • bioethanol
  • chitin
  • chitosan
  • shellfish waste
  • pochonia chlamydosporia
  • beauveria bassiana
  • metarhizium anisopliae

About Universidad de Alicante

Research & Technology Organization from Spain

As one of the largest universities of Spain, Universidad de Alicante has a rich history of innovation. Our main objective is to transfer the technology that our research teams are developing to the industries and companies which are able to take profit from them. R & D & Innovation results and know-how are offered in the domains of Chemistry, Materials, Environment, IT, Building and other applied subjects.

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