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Separation of product material in downstream processing

Natural source, chemistry

This is the second stage downstream processing which the process of synthesis of a product from natural sources

Certain natural sources contain enzymes, drugs, and chemicals in high concentration. These products are to be extracted from the main source thus it can be used beneficially. So it is an important stage in the downstream processing. This product extraction can also be termed as separation of product material from the main material. This can be done in 3 primary methods:

  •         Physical methods
  •         Chemical methods
  •         Enzymatic methods

Physical methods involve the application of physical energy to weaken the binding force present between the product cells and source cells and thus isolating it. Physical methods involve certain ways:

Ultrasonic method: As the name says, it involves the application of ultrasound for the breakup of the cells. Application of ultrasound is an expensive method so it is not widely used in downstream processing.

By application of Osmotic shocks: This method is deployed in the case of hydrolytic enzymes which are water concentrated. In order to take away these, the process of osmosis is used in downstream processing.

By application of heat: This method is known as thermolysis. Application of heat waves can increase the randomness of the cells thus it destroys the bonding. This method is suitable for heat-resistant enzymes.

In Chemical methods, certain chemicals are used to take out the enzymes from the main material. Few of chemical methods are:

Alkali treatment: This method is used for extraction of bacterial proteins. Alkalis work on only those products which are resistant to it. Thus it is specifically used in protein downstream processing.

Close-up of test tubes

Usage of organic solvents: Organic solvents are efficient in the cell breaking mechanism. Several organic solvents employed in this process are methanol, ethanol etc. The most preferably used solvent in downstream processing is toluene.

Enzymatic method is the extraction of enzymes using enzymes. This is an advantageous method as it requires normal conditions for working. The commonly used enzyme in downstream processing is Lysozyme.


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