Biocatalysis – from an industrial perspective
White biotechnology or industrial biotechnology refers to the use of biological systems and processes to produce useful products and processes for industrial applications. It uses enzymes, microorganisms, and other biological agents to carry out chemical reactions and transformations that are typically performed through traditional chemical processes.
I will present in my talk in which areas BASF is using biotechnology or biocatalysis to replace or supplement chemical processes. In contrast to academida, where specificity, selectivity and velocity of enzymes is often central, industry needs to focus often on costs, robustness and and process fit to existing platforms. Therefore, transformation of a single enzyme reaction into commercial reality requires more things to be considered. Using plastic degradation exemplified by enzymatic PET degradation I will show how such a large scale process looks like but also point out that the enzyme reaction itself might be only minor fragment in such large scale process with many parameters to be considered and benchmarked with chemical processes.
As last part I will show concepts of an enzyme screening campaign for a laundry enzyme: How enzymes are selected for these screenings, which considerations are relevant for screening and how process upscaling is usually performed to produce a cost-effective biocatalyst.
Stefan is a Protein Biochemist for Industrial Enzymes. He lives and works in Ludwigshafen, the main site of BASF. Stefan has been doing protein work for 20 years, beginning with membrane proteins and associated proteins, then switching to antibody analysis and engineering. At BASF he does strain/process/biocatalysis R&D work in the white biotech department. While catalysis is often connected to protein engineering, his daily research involves much more, as expression improvement, process adaptations, patent filing and assay work are also relevant for a successful project. As principal scientist, he is a standard lab leader currently supervising 4 technicians, but is also responsible for mentoring younger lab leaders with less experience in the industrial setting.