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
Email: gunnar [dot] liden [at] chemeng [dot] lth [dot] se
Email: rajni [dot] hatti-kaul [at] biotek [dot] lu [dot] se