BIOTECHNICA 2008, 7 to 9 October Hannover

03.09.2008: BIOTECHNICA 2008, 7 to 9 October Hannover

The role of white biotechnology in industrial production

* 'German White Biotechnology Platform' conference on 8 October within the scientific congress European BioPerspectives

Although white or industrial biotechnology has been around for a considerable time, it has only recently begun to revolutionize industrial production. Nature's toolset is being increasingly deployed in processes that help cut production costs such as energy and raw materials, as well as in the effective disposal of products and production waste. These are among the keynote themes to be addressed by experts on 8 October at BIOTECHNICA, Europe's leading biotech event.

The 'German White Biotechnology Platform', which features in the scientific congress European BioPerspectives, will be opened by Dr. Alfred Oberholz, board member of Evonik Industries AG and chairman of DECHEMA (German Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology).

Whereas the pharmaceutical and food industries have a long tradition of using biotechnology, the chemicals industry has only turned to this low-impact form of production in recent years (notably for fine chemicals, medicines and plastics). Microbiologically derived bio-plastics open up the prospect of reducing dependency on oil - at least to some extent - in the manufacture of plastics. Bio-chemical products are often more eco-friendly, cheaper and more sustainable than traditional chemical synthesizing processes.

Combining low environmental impact with high levels of effectiveness, biotech processes sometimes use whole microorganisms, and sometimes only selected constituents - depending on the process or product required. Experts attribute the success of white biotechnology over the past few years to the advances made in our understanding of biological catalyzers. This has given us the ability to convert or modify natural substances and organisms to the point where they can survive the extreme conditions encountered in industrial production. Thanks to recent developments, it is now possible to produce them in sufficient quantities.

One such example featured in this year's conference program is the use of microorganisms and enzyme systems specifically engineered to facilitate the industrial use of carbon and nitrogen compounds extracted from plant matter - in particular lignocellulose, which is considered difficult to break down and convert.

Various sources suggest that white biotechnology already accounts for worldwide sales worth 55 to 60 billion euros. But this is only the beginning, as the true technological potential has yet to be fully realized. For example, new enzyme systems could open up whole new areas of application. Some of the systems that will be presented in Hannover are designed to meet needs that industry has not even recognized yet. These include enzymes that can be used to impregnate bottle corks, treat textiles or bleach paper pulp.

The 'German White Technology Platform' is an alliance of different organizations and associations that have joined forces to promote the maximum exploitation of the potential offered by industrial or white biotechnology. The 'German White Biotechnology Platform' conference featured in the BIOTECHNICA program will be held on 8 October from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. in the Convention Center (CC) at the Hannover exhibition grounds. Prospective participants are asked to register in advance of the event. Further information on the conference program, as well as the terms and conditions of participation, can be found at www.biotechnica.de/kon

About EUROPEAN BIOPERSPECTIVES

EUROPEAN BIOPERSPECTIVES is a biotechnology congress that brings together 18 associations and organizations from the bio-sciences and biotechnology with the aim of staging a cutting-edge, top level scientific lecture program. The collaboration is a partnership representing approx. 30,000 members from the scientific community.

A committee made up of renowned representatives and scientists is responsible for a multi-faceted program covering a broad spectrum of themes and different disciplines of biotechnology. Since its inception in 2004 BIOPERSPECTIVES has represented an extension of the traditional and highly esteemed annual DECHEMA conference. As Germany's leading biotechnology congress, it attracted no fewer than 2,000 participants when it last took place.

-Katharina Siebert-

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03.09.2008 / MaP

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