Environment | Technology | Energy

Downstream Processing ensures a finished product reaches the market

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.

Essential step

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.

Bottom line

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.

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