Downstream processing is about the purification and recovery of biosynthetic products, especially the
pharmaceuticals from the natural sources such as plant or animal tissue or fermentation broth. This entails
the salvageable components recycling, appropriate treatment and waste disposal.
Downstream processing is an essential step in the pharmaceuticals manufacturing such as antibodies,
antibiotics, hormones and vaccines, industrial enzymes, enzymes and antibodies used in the diagnostics,
the flavor compounds and natural fragrance. Downstream processing is regarded to be a specialized field
in chemical engineering and biochemical engineering. There were many other technologies created by
biologists and chemists to separate the biological products, yet, this processing was considered
appropriate and essential.
Downstream processing stages
Analytical bioseparation and downstream processing both refer to the purification or separation of
biological products, but the scales of operation are different and so are their purposes different.
The downstream processing is widely recognized operation and is categorized into four groups such that a
product is transformed into a component from its natural state following progressive improvements in
concentration and purity.
Firstly, the insolubles are removed and the product as a solute is captured.
This is acquired by typical operations namely, filtration, centrifugation, flocculation,
sedimentation, precipitation, electro-precipitation and gravity setting.
The other operations that are in addition include homogenization, grinding or leaching. These
help in recovering products from solid sources.
The product is then isolated such that the properties vary from the desired product.
Generally, water is removed and thus the material volume is reduced and the product becomes highly
concentrated and is handled. Some units operations also include adsorption, solvent extraction,
ultrafiltration and precipitation.
As the product purification separates the contaminants resembling the original product, it becomes very
crucial to carry it out and at this stage downstream processing contributes a fraction of the expenditure as
it involves with end packaging of the product and convenient transportation.