The expectations of what biotechnology should deliver are high:
- Zero waste, utilization of byproducts
- Ability to process heterogeneous raw materials and input chemicals to produce the same end products
- Changeover during production of multiple products without interruption
- Utilization of existing infrastructure
Up to this point, there have been few biotech solutions outside of the pharmaceutical industry, which have been affordable and have met expectations on a large scale. That is due to the nature of the technology: The products are generally precursors and intermediates made of biological material which is subject to variation. They are seldom of the “off-the–shelf” variety, and it takes additional expertise to produce a saleable (end) product.
Bio fuels have the potential to replace over 50 percent of the global demand for gasoline by 2030, a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance states. More Bio Fuels to Replace Over 50 Percent of Gasoline Demand by 2030
Combined Technology Gains Momentum in the Bio Economy
In addition, biotech process systems are also not plug & play at this stage. Customer-specific modifications are always necessary, and customers must have the confidence that aftersales service will provide dependable support and will not increase prices after the fact.
Combination of multiple technology platforms has gained momentum in recent years. Autonomous machine control, intelligent measurement and control technology, modular extraction, separation and cooling systems and miniaturized fractionation and synthesis machines bring biotech applications to the point where they are suitable for industrial use.
The Interface Question Reaches Biotechnology
Nonproprietary interfaces which provide connectivity to customer systems are becoming more common on automated lab equipment. Among other things, this gives users greater freedom of choice in the selection of reagents. Sensors with autoclavable electrodes which support mobile data acquisition for specific process parameters are now available for fermenters. New differential pH sensors in combination with specialized buffer gels (e.g. maleic acid and diallylamine) eliminate the disadvantages of standard reference systems (KCI half-cell), opening the door to real time pH detection under variable temperature conditions.
Could algae cultures overcome the shortfalls of classic agraic products or is the green revolution just a hype? More on page 4!
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