Fundamentals and Biotechnological Applications of Downstream Processing Technologies
‘Downstream processing’ describes as a series of operational steps used to recover biotechnological products and produce a purified bulk compound in a format suitable for its intended use. The purification step is extremely important because the degree of purity of certain materials is an essential pre-requisite for many applications and, depending on that, the material will be classified as useful or useless by regulatory agencies. Downstream processing is a critical component of the overall process bearing in mind that the product recovery costs may impact on the economic viability of certain processes. The recovery step includes all the steps taken after the fermentation step in the bioreactor, which involves the separation of one compound/material, typically presented at low concentration, from a large amount of water, whole cells, cell debris and/or fragments, soluble and insoluble medium products, aggregated proteins, undissolved nutrient components and so on. In spite of its importance in food manufacturing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, downstream processing has not been prioritized in the same fashion as upstream processing, so discussions about this subject are extremely necessary. Thus, this chapter revises techniques largely used in downstream operation steps during biotechnology processes (cell inactivation, separation and disruption, product extraction and purification), their advantages and limitations, as well as their application in the biotechnology industry.