White biotechnology, or industrial biotechnology is using living cells—from yeast, moulds, bacteria and plants—and enzymes to produce a variety of industrial products. Well know examples are citric acid, lactic acid or ethanol, but nowadays en endless list of of products is in development or already produced fermentatively. For instance, the US company Genomatica has developed technology for the fermentative manufacturing of 1,4-butanediol and is developing technology for the manufacturing of caprolactam, the monomer used for nylon production. In another example, the French company Global Bioenergies is developing technologies for the fermentative production of isobutene. Even polymers can be fermentatively produced, for instance PHA’s, while enzymes used in a variety of applications are also fermentatively produced.
A variety of feedstock can be used for fermentation. Sugar and starches are very common, but also other feedstocks such as organic oils, byproducts such as glycerol from biodiesel production and even organic waste are used.
White biotechnology offers huge innovation potential
The biotechnology industries just started to explore nature’s richness for the techniques to replace petroleum-based non-degradable synthetics. And this is what ‘white biotechnology‘ is all about. studies have demonstrated that the social, environmental and economic benefits of industrial biotechnology go hand in hand. As industrial biotechnology moves from fine chemicals into the segment of commodities and eventually into bulk products,m feedstock prices are becoming an even more imortant issue. White biotechnology is expected to accelerate due to the convergence of life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.