Bioprocessing Separations: Advancing a Research Agenda

Organizers: Jennifer Dunn, Lauren Valentino & Gregg Beckham

Overall, industrial separations constitute up to 15% of total energy consumption in the United States. In the bio-based economy, bioprocessing separations are significantly less mature than industrial separations that are common in the established petrochemical industry. Bioprocess-relevant separations are universally costly and complex, regardless of the conversion pathway (biochemical, thermochemical, hybrid) used because products are dilute and often in aqueous environments, and the mixtures that result from biomass deconstruction are chemically complex. Accordingly, bioprocessing separations are often a key driver of process costs and suffer from a lack of selectivity. In many cases, separations approaches are inspired by unoptimized bench-scale procedures; therefore, a technology baseline, or definition of the state of technology (SOT), is often lacking. Overall, as we continue to advance the bioeconomy, breakthroughs in bioprocessing separations will be necessary. This symposium will assemble experts in the following areas of bioprocessing separations: extraction and adsorption, membrane-based separations, solid-liquid based separations, novel materials for bioprocessing separations, integrated separations in bioprocessing, and development of thermophysical property data for bioprocessing separations. These experts will lay the groundwork for understanding the current state of the science in bioprocessing separations as well as highlight research and development needs for the broader community to address. This symposium will frame a research agenda for bioprocessing separations that will help guide future work.