With the help of bacteria, basic chemicals such as lactic acid, ethanol, propanediol, ethylene are produced mainly in anaerobic processes from defined industrial residue streams such as whey or from the cellulose or hemicellulose fraction from the lignocellulose biorefinery. One focus of the work at the IGB is the development or optimization of a suitable fermentation process for the biotechnological products. Another is the processing of the product from the aqueous fermentation broth.
IGB offers the biotechnical production of compounds as contract fermentation to small and medium-sized companies without sufficient fermentation capacities, but also to large companies for additional fermentations.
Biotechnical production processes in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries generally take place in aqueous media. The product to be obtained is therefore present in (sometimes considerably) diluted form and must be concentrated and isolated for further processing or sale and cleaned of other components of the fermentation medium (by-products, cells).
Under the term "downstream processing", IGB develops processing methods for fermentation products and, if necessary, plans and builds appropriate plants. Membrane processes in particular are used at IGB, as membranes or membrane processes can be used specifically according to the respective chemical and physical properties of the product (size, charge, etc.). For example, membrane filtration (for the concentration of liquid products from the food industry and macromolecular biological substances), electrodialysis (for the separation of salts or acids and alkalis) are used. Also combinations of different membrane processes, of membrane and conventional separation processes (e.g. centrifugation) or of membrane with high-separation chromatographic processes are used.
We also develop optimised processing methods for products with high quality requirements, i.e. purity of products such as pharmaceuticals, food additives or chemical base materials for syntheses.
As further purification steps for e.g. proteins (active ingredients, enzymes), different chromatography methods such as ion exchange chromatography, gel chromatography and reversed phase chromatography are used.