For intermediate and specialty chemicals, the incorporation of biotechnology-based processes has become a viable option for the chemical process industries (CPI). This one-page reference discusses some of the benefits and challenges of fermentation-based processes.
Among the potential advantages of fermentation processes over conventional processes are the following:
Improved selectivity. Bioengineering techniques generally allow the elimination of byproducts from the outset, by designing a microorganism to carry out the fermentation so that byproducts are not produced.
Reduced costs. Fermentation can dramatically reduce the number of process steps, as well as operational costs. Because the single unit operation of fermentation can replace multiple unit operations in conventional chemical processes, the cost per ton may be significantly lower (sometimes 20–40% lower) for bio-based process technologies. Also, capital equipment for fermentation-based processes may be less expensive because fermentation runs at near-ambient temperature and pressure and near-neutral pH, compared to more challenging conditions often required in a conventional chemical process. Reduced byproducts can lower downstream processing…