Continuous biocatalytic processing and synthesis:variations on a theme of “flow chemistry”
Opportunities opened up by changing the biotechnological production from batch to continuous are explored actively in different sectors of industry. Continuous processing poses challenges for implementation and especially in the downstream part of the process where new technology developments may be necessary before fully continuous manufacturing can become reality. Continuous biocatalytic production is often implemented routinely, and large scale processes exist that are operated fully continuously. Continuous processing with soluble and insoluble (immobilized) enzymes is possible using suitable reactor design. Processing in microstructured flow reactors could play a role in specialized applications.
There is a growing interest in biotechnology to shift the production from batchwise to continuous operation (1–3). To realize the cost benefits achievable through continuous processing constitutes an important driver of this change. Improvement in product quality is another driver, especially in the field of biologics (therapeutic protein) production. Many biotech companies are currently exploring therefore the technological feasibility and the economics of continuous manufacturing. However, unlike other industries, such as the oil refining industry for example, where the batch-to-continuous conversion has been effectively applied to obtain significant process intensification, the batchwise or fed-batch process is still standard in many areas of biotechnology. Advantages of continuous over b ... ...