Addition of a small quantity of solid porous carriers (e.g., activated carbon or expanded clay) into fermentation broth significantly increased surfactin production with Bacillus subtilis ATCC 21332. Culture medium containing 25 g L-1 of activated carbon gave an optimal surfactin yield of 3600 mg L-1, which was approximately 36-fold higher than that obtained from carrier-free liquid culture. The marked increase in surfactin production was primarily attributed to stimulation of cell growth due to the presence of activated carbon carriers. Concentration of limiting carbon substrate (glucose) is also an important factor affecting the production of surfactin, as an initial glucose concentration of 40 g L-1 resulted in optimal surfactin production. An appropriate agitation rate also benefited surfactin production, as the best yield appeared at an agitation rate of 200 rpm. Surfactin was purified from fermentation broth via a series of acidic precipitation and solvent extraction. The resulting product was nearly 90% pure with a recovery efficiency of ca. 72%. The purified surfactin reduced the surface tension of water from 72 to 27 mN m-1 with a critical micelle concentration of ca. 10 mg L-1. The surfactin product also attained an emulsion index of 70% for kerosene and diesel at a low concentration of 100 and 600 mg L-1, respectively.
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