Innovative technology to meet the demands of the white biotechnology revolution of chemical production

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Abstract

The rapid introduction of bio-production methods in areas where production methods based on fossil fuel raw materials have been dominant for half a century is documented in policy papers by large political organizations as well as in the media. The present review seeks to describe the means by which a technological revolution termed "white biotechnology" for production of commodity chemicals has proved its credibility. Obviously, the rapid advances in biology has been crucial for the development of industrial biotechnology towards a position where even its cheap products such as bio-fuels can compete with fossil fuels, and where new families of intermediates for production of polymers and pharmaceuticals are emerging. An equally important development is that of a model framework for bio-processes by which the physiological processes in living cells can be described accurately by the use of sophisticated models, supported by accurate data obtained in experimental equipment that did not exist a few years ago. The need to update the chemical engineering education to meet the needs of the bio-industry is also evident. Much of the progress of the bio-industry has up to now been based on fundamental understanding of the processes as created by the research of chemical engineers. These professionals will also have a key role to play in future developments if certain measures are taken by universities to update the educational programs. These modifications will in no way be in conflict with the basic concepts of the chemical engineering education, but they will modify some of the traditional teaching methods and will bring attention to topics that for a long time were considered somewhat peripheral to the mainstream of chemical engineering education.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Volume62
Issue number24
Pages (from-to)6957-6968
ISSN0009-2509
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • bio-fuels
  • white biotechnology
  • bio-reactions
  • mixing
  • filtration
  • bio-catalysis
  • scale-up
  • metabolic pathway modeling

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