Bioprocessing can refer to either the separation of specific molecules from living systems or the use of processes found in living systems to manufacture and manipulate products (for example using enzymes).
New Zealand companies have been handling and processing biological material for over a century. We know how to extract fine chemicals from meat and fish wastes and how to retain the biological activity of sensitive components like enzymes.
We are also learning more about the potential uses of minor components of plants, animals and microbes. This country is well placed, because of our years of experience and/or access to diverse species, to develop the technologies needed to extract, manipulate, and market these high-value molecules for the world.
An example of bioprocessing is the use of living organisms (or parts of living cells) to modify products. The living cells most commonly used are single-celled microorganisms, such as yeasts and bacteria. We now use a diverse range of microorganisms to brew beer, make wine, pickle foods, and make substances like antibiotics, vitamins, pigments, pesticides, and food-processing aids.
The parts of cells that are most often used are enzymes. These are proteins that help to catalyse (speed up) chemical processes. Usually, bioprocessing systems require a controlled environment and careful monitoring of the process is critical.
- 20 September 2007