Lactic acid is an organic bioproduct, synthesized through fermentation. The commonly used raw materials in the synthesis of lactic acid include sugarcane, corn starch or tapioca starch depending on the availability. Large production of lactic acid has been on the rise to meet the global demand for the product. Lactic acid has various uses, including industrial application in making cosmetic products and food industries. Pharmaceutical and textile industries also depend on lactic acid in synthesis of products. Extensive application of lignocellulose biomass will subsequently increase the market demand for lactic acid and its polymers. Lignocellulose biomass is derived from plants with abundant polysaccharides. As a plant derivative, lignocellulose is renewable hence provide a better source of biofuels. Lignin and cellulose are the major component of lignocellulose. It is projected that an increase in the use of lignocellulosic biomass will increase the global demand and consumption of lactic acid polymers. At the same time, the use of conventional petroleum-based plastics will decline significantly. The global industrial production of lactic acid is approximately 275000 ton annually. The demands in cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries is likely to rise in the future and therefore, the production should increase to match the demand. The market demand for lactic acid has an annual growth rate of about 10.5%. large scale application of polylactic acid has contributed to the high growth rate of lactic acid. Polylactic acid is biodegradable hence widely used in the manufacture of food packaging materials, including wraps, containers, garbage bags and single use trays. The trending increase in the demand of lactic acid polymers necessitate for sustainable production. For example, the demand for polylactic acid is likely to rise and surpass the 650000 tons in the next two years.
The production of lactic acid requires basic raw materials such as corn, cassava and sugarcane. The availability of these raw materials determines the choice the production process. There are four options in the production of lactic acid. These include fermentation, HMP, Krebs’s cycle and glycolysis. Fermentation is the most common pathway for large scale synthesis of lactic acid. The process uses bacteria to breakdown sugar in the absence of oxygen; a process called anerobic respiration. However, these methods can produce significant amount of lactic acid depending on the amount of raw materials. Industrial production of lactic follows the process below:
Sugar Glucose Pyruvate lactic acid
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