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A process for an efficient phase separation of emulsions resulting from biphasic whole cell-bio-transformations has been developed at the TU Dortmund. The phase separation of unavoidable emulsions typically present due the presence of microorganisms and bio-surfactants, which has previously been seen as problematic, has been greatly simplified to permit further processing of the reaction mixture.
In contrast to other approaches such as the use of de-emulsifiers or centrifuges a phase separation can be achieved with a minimal effort in both energy and equipment. Using a physical effect the new methods enables a high potential for an industrial application due to its scalability, low costs and easy process control.
The new method enables the separation of stable emulsion by an easy and tricky process based on the so called “catastrophic phase inversion”. The method was designed as a continuous process suitable for application on an industrial scale.
In contrast to conventional processes such as e.g. centrifuging or membrane filtration, a complete phase separation can be achieved without a dilution of the product containing (mostly organic) phase. After separation of the phases, these can be further processed using conventional methods.
The invention is distinguished in particular by its simplicity and universal applicability to any biphasic whole-cell biotransformation where stable emulsions occur as a result of the reaction step.
Patent applications have been filed in Europe and the USA.
PROvendis is offering licenses for the invention to interested companies on behalf of the TU Dortmund. There is also the possibility of collaboration with the inventors.