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Bioprocess technology

Transforming biobased resources into the desired products requires customized processes and technological solutions. The processes need to successfully integrate knowledge about the properties of both the resource used and the biocatalyst, ensuring that reasonable yields and high levels of productivity will be produced and thus good process economy. The methods of transformation will vary depending on the desired product, with common options being microbial catalysis, enzymatic catalysis, heterogeneous metal catalysis, or synthetic chemistry. With the development of biocatalysts and advanced microbial systems in recent years, entirely new opportunities have been found, and chemical reactions that have previously been too difficult to carry out are now routine processes. There is more to be done, however, as process technology needs to develop to be able to handle fermentation or enzymatic conversion of highly viscous and complex biomass substrates, for example.

Knowledge of which chemical structures give a new product the desired properties is key. The product could be a chemical with relatively simple structure (often referred to as a bulk chemical, or platform chemical when produced in large quantities), which will later be transformed into other, often more complicated, structures (fine and speciality chemicals, or polymers). The product may also be a protein or other macromolecule such as a modified carbohydrate or biopolyester. The latter can then be used in the polymer industry, producing plastics for use. 

Researchers in this field at Lund University

Gunnar Lidén. Photo.

Gunnar Lidén

Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering

Email: gunnar [dot] liden [at] chemeng [dot] lth [dot] se

Gunnar Lidén’s research concerns the fermentation technology needed for conversion of lignocellulose. This includes process optimization of lignocellulose hydrolysis, and fermentation technology for production of organic acids from hemicellulose. Another important area of his research is biotechnical methods for conversion of lignin into low molecular weight chemicals.
Rajni Hatti-Kaul. Photo.

Rajni Hatti-Kaul

Professor, Division of Biotechnology, Department of Chemistry

Email: rajni [dot] hatti-kaul [at] biotek [dot] lu [dot] se

Rajni Hatti-Kaul’s research group work towards finding and developing complete biocatalytic processes. These are based on enzymes and microbes, using the principles of green chemistry in order to produce chemicals and materials from renewable resources. The team also develop suitable separation techniques to recycle these products.