February 4, 2015


Evonik develops new process to optimise amino acid production



Evonik has integrated the separating methods of chromatography and reverse osmosis and an online analytical method based on spectroscopy - all of which tend to be used in other industry sectors - in the fermentative production of amino acids.


The researchers' objective was to achieve optimal separation of the desired amino acid from a fermentation broth. What resulted was an outcome experts had previously considered nearly impossible.


In the fermentative production of amino acids, the company exploits the ability of microorganisms to produce complex molecules such as certain amino acids in an industrial vessel.


The downstream purification and treatment process is a key factor in product quality and yield. The special challenge of the process is that the composition of the fermentation broth fluctuates considerably. This overstrains many of the proven separating technologies, causing them to be less efficient than they should be.   


The new process combines a continuous chromatography process that separates the amino acids from the fermentation broth with high selectivity, thereby increasing product yields; a reverse osmosis process that removes water from the broth and, combined with the chromatography process, significantly increases the efficiency of the entire process; and, a process monitoring system based on near-infrared spectroscopy that allows the process to operate in the optimal range.   


Evonik Fermas in Slovakia has been using the new process successfully for the past two years. According to the company, it has led to significant improvements in product yields, productivity, production costs, and environmental performance.


The new findings have also been transferred to other fermentation processes. The company's experts are also currently studying how to further reduce the use of thermal energy in the production of amino acids.