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Fermentation and Bioseparation Technology

The Centre for Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining runs projects on small-scale fermentation, scale-up of fermentation processes and development of novel bioseparations as downstream processing technology and as a hybrid technology for enhanced fermentations.

Separation of biopharmaceuticals

In a collaborative research project between Dr Guy Barker (School of Life Sciences) and Professor Alexei Lapkin (School of Engineering), we're looking at increasing the recovery of artemisinin from Artemisia annua biomass through optimising the purification protocol after solvent extraction, and also at isolation of co-metabolites for this important biopharmaceutical.

The group has previously worked on developing better extraction processes for artemisinin.


Lapkin, A., Walker, A., Sullivan, N., Khambay, B., Mlamboa, B. and Chemat, S. (2009) 'Development of HPLC analytical protocols for quantification of artemisinin in biomass and extracts', Journal Of Pharmaceutical And Biomedical Analysis, 49 (4), 908 – 915.

Lapkin, A., Peters, M., Greiner, L., Chemat, S., Leonhard, K., Liauw, M. A. and Leitner, W. (2010) 'Screening of new solvents for artemisinin extraction process using ab-initio methodology', Green Chemistry (RSC), 12 (2), 241 – 251.

Lapkin,A. P. Plucinski (2006) 'Comparative assessment of technologies for extraction of artemisinin', Journal Of Natural Products, 69 1653 – 1664.

Fermentation and separation

In situ separation of products from fermentation broths can significantly enhance fermentations through reducing the potential product inhibition, shifting equilibrium of the equilibrium-limited reactions, as well as reducing the cost of downstream separations.

This is particularly important for aqueous fermentations if water-soluble products are formed, since the cost of separation may prohibit the implementation of fermentation technology for production of intermediates, rather than high value pharmaceutical compounds.

In a recent project we combined fermentation of glycerol to 1,3-Propanediol with esterification of the product diol in a hybrid membrane reactor and fermentation process. This process illustrates the concept of eliminating intermediates separation through combining consecutive processes in a hybrid technology.


M.V. Sotenko, M. Rebros, V.S. Sans, K.N. Loponov, M.G. Davidson, G. Stephens, A.A. Lapkin (2012) 'Tandem transformation of glycerol to esters', Journal Of Biotechnology, in print