Stages of Downstream Processing

downstream processing

The other side of downstream processing

Downstream processing is, to put it as simply as possible, the process by which biochemical engineering takes plant, animal and other biomatter, and separates it into a wide variety of things, including, but not limited to:


1: Antibiotics

2: Pharmaceuticals

3: Hormones

4: Vaccines


So you can see why downstream processing is important to our modern world, but how does it work? Well, here’s an oversimplified order of operations.


Removing Insolubles


There are many methods of performing this task, but the basic version is that they want to get rid of things like cell matter that is not part of the desired end product. Some methods include injecting certain types of gas into the mixture, causing the cell structures to stick in the bubbles, although there are many other techniques employed, depending on the type of matter being worked on, and the desired end result.




The product isolation stage is the next stage in stripping the product from undesirable elements. In this stage the cheif undesirable element is usually water, though there are often other traces to be removed. Extraction and absorbing are the chief techniques employed in this stage of downstream processing.




This stage involves the most highly sensitive equipment, and is essentially removing any remaining contaminants and prepping the product for the final stage.



Polishing is usually the last stage of the process of downstream processing, and this involves taking the product that has been worked on, and actually getting it into some form that is safe for travel and/or storage. Like all of the other stages of operation here, there are of course several options to be employed in the product polishing stage, but one of the more popular options is crystallization


So there you have it, an admittedly very simplified version of the scientific process known commonly as downstream processing. If you want to learn more about this process, and why it’s important to you and to society, then there are of course many other sources that explain the topic in much greater detail.

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