• Bioprocess
    Development Services
    How they Work...


Bioprocesses are defined as any technology that is used to process biomass feedstocks (e.g. hemp, straws, hardwoods, sugarcane bagasse etc.), biomass-derived wastes and residues (e.g. waste papers, composts, municipal waste etc.), or compounds/chemicals obtained or derived from biomass (e.g. lignin, glucose, ethanol etc.).

The bioprocess can be a fully vertically-integrated process, involving every stage of processing and conversion, starting from the original feedstock (e.g. corn stover) and ending at the final product (e.g. bioethanol). Alternatively, the bioprocess can be considered to a specific node within a larger sequence of processing steps, for example the pretreatment applied to the corn stover prior to the subsequent hydrolysis and fermentation stages.

Bioprocess Development is a project undertaken to either develop a new bioprocess or to improve an existing one. There are many criteria for assessing a bioprocess and, hence, metrics for determining whether it is a viable new process or an improvement over the prior art. Some of the most common critera include: sustainability, cost & profitability, yield and quality of the targeted product(s), feedstock flexibility, efficiency of biomass conversion, amount of by-products and their treatment or disposal options.

Many of these critera can have interacting elements and can also be broken down into numerous sub-critera. For example, the sustainability critera can cover aspects such as: the type and amount of chemicals used in the bioprocess, the process energy requirements, and the fossil-fuel abatement potential of the process or the targeted products. Many of these elements also impact upon the cost and potential profitability of the process. For example, a bioprocess development project targeting reduced energy and chemical inputs for an existing bioprocess can also help to reduce the costs of the process and improve its commercial viablity.

Bioprocess Assessment

Technoeconomic Analysis (TEA)

Technoeconomic analysis (TEA) is a comprehensive method used to evaluate the economic viability and technical feasibility of a project, technology, product, or system. It combines the principles of technical analysis, which focuses on the performance and requirements of the technology, with economic analysis, which assesses the costs and potential profits associated with its implementation or production.

TEA is often used in the development and commercialization process of new technologies or systems, where it serves to identify potential economic and technical obstacles, assess the competitiveness of the technology against existing solutions, and determine the conditions under which the technology would be economically viable.

Celignis has a number of TEA experts. They have undertaken TEAs at the PhD level and as projects for clients covering many different technological approaches and scales. We recognise that a detailed and comprehensive TEA is a key step in assessing as to how an existing bioprocess can be improved and in determining the viability and areas for improvement in a newly developed bioprocess.

We often recommend to our clients that TEA work is undertaken routinely during the bioprocess development project so that the commercial-viablity of the process is kept centre-stage.

Get more info...TEA

Life-Cycle Analysis

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), also known as Life Cycle Assessment, is a method used to evaluate the environmental impacts of a product, process, or service throughout its entire life cycle. The life cycle covers all stages, from raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution, and use, to end-of-life disposal or recycling. In the context of bioprocess development, LCA is a critical tool for several reasons:
  • Environmental Impact - E.g greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste generation, etc. of the bioprocess.
  • Sustainability - Bioprocesses are often developed to be more sustainable than traditional chemical processes. An LCA provides a quantitative measure of this sustainability, assessing the environmental footprint compared to traditional alternatives.
  • Process Optimisation - By identifying the most environmentally harmful stages of the bioprocess, an LCA can guide efforts to optimise the process. These could target reduced waste, improved energy efficiency, or better use of raw materials.
  • Regulation and Standards Compliance - Many industries and markets are increasingly subject to environmental regulations and standards, which may require an LCA to demonstrate compliance. In addition, an LCA can support marketing claims about the environmental benefits of a product or process.
  • Decision-Making Support - LCA provides valuable data for making informed decisions about product development, process design, and resource allocation. By considering the environmental impacts, alongside technical & economic feasibility (in a TEA), LCA supports a more holistic means of bioprocess development.

Types of Bioprocesses

Product-Centred Bioprocess

Many bioprocess projects arise from the need or aspiration of an organisation to source a biobased chemical to substitute for one of their existing products or for one of the ingredients in their processes. For example, a food manufacturer may wish to develop a bioprocess to produce propionic acid for use as a more sustainable food preservative, replacing the synthetic chemicals that the company currently purchases to preserve the food. As a second example, a fossil-fuel company may wish to develop a bioprocess for the production of a drop-in biobutanol to improve the biofuel content of their product range.

In this scenario the final-product is locked-down and, instead, the bioprocess development can focus on the best approach to sustainably and profitably get it. This can mean that there is some flexibility with regards to the feedstock and particular processing technologies to be employed. The Celignis team will consider the existing infrastructure of the client when designing the bioprocess as well as any side-streams/residues that the client can avail-of as a feedstock. For example, the food manufactuer may have sugar-rich liquid side-streams as part of their existing food production operations and these can then be used as a substrate for propionic-acid fermentation.

Click below to read more about our Bioprocess Development for the production of Biobased Chemicals, including dedicated pages for several such chemicals (including bioethanol, biobutanol, and xylitol).

Get more info...Biobased Chemicals

Feedstock-Focused Bioprocess

A second category of bioprocess development concerns the aspiration for an organisation to efficiently valorise a particular feedstock. The feedstock can be one that the company is currently processing but for which more a profitable and sustainable end-use is sought. As example of this case would be a sugar-mill operator that currently combusts the sugarcane bagasse residue but is examining other valorisation approaches for this feedstock.

The feedstock in question may also be a waste, of the organisation's current process, that is currently disposed-of or otherwise handled/treated at cost. Developing a bioprocess to valorise this waste would help to improve the sustainability of the entire process and also improve profitability by generating extra net revenue from this side-stream where previously it represented a net cost to the process. An example of this case would be a company developing a bioprocess to ferment a COD-rich effluent stream to biobased chemicals (e.g. volatile fatty acids, VFAs), replacing the existing wastewater treatment processes required to treat this effluent prior to its disposal into municipal wastewater facilities.

In this scenario the feedstock is locked-down but the technological approaches and final end-product(s) are open. Again, the Celignis team will consider the existing infrastructure of the client when designing the bioprocess as well as any existing chemical demands of their main process when considering the final products.

Refinement of Existing Bioprocess

Another type of bioprocess development focuses on the improvement of an existing bioprocess. This improvement can target the whole bioprocess or specific nodes in the wider process scheme. The targets for the improvement can be: product yield, OPEX reductions, and improved product quality, among others.

Our normal approach for tackling this kind of bioprocess improvement project involves us first examining the existing bioprocess in detail. Ideally, this examination would including a TEA and, if required, an LCA. Following this work we can then identify key aspects of the process where we consider improvements can be made. We then proceed to undertake lab-scale experiments in order to assess these hypotheses and to narrow-down the process conditions that will allow for the targeted improvements to be realised.

One example of such a process refinement project undertaken at Celignis concerns us optimising a process for oligomer production from a certain polysaccharide substrate. Our client had an existing process targeting the production of oligomeric sugars from this material, however the chain-length distribution of the products, as well as the ratio of oligomeric to monomeric sugars, were not in the preferred range for the targeted application. Celignis personnel reviewed the existing process and formulated an experimental plan (Design of Experiments, DoE) to optimise a range of parameters (e.g. enzyme type and dosage, temperature, mixing rate etc.) considered important to achieving the project's goals. The data obtained from this DoE gave a clear understanding of the dynamics of oligosaccharide production and allowed us to optimise the conditions so that the client was able to obtain a product stream with improved characteristics.

Click below to read more about our Bioprocess Development Services for improving existing bioprocesses.

Get more info...Process Improvements

New Full-Value-Chain Bioprocess

We can also work on Bioprocess Development for an entirely new bioprocess, covering all stages of the process-scheme. This means we start with the original feedstock and develop all stages involved in processing it and obtaining the targeted product(s). Developing such a comprehensive bioprocess requires considering, and developing approaches for, a number of key aspects, including:
  • Feedstock Selection and Preparation - Factors to consider in feedstock selection include: availability, cost, composition, and sustainability. There may also need to be steps for extraction and/or pretreatment of the biomass prior to the main conversion.
  • Primary-Conversion Technology - Here a type of bioprocess technology needs to be selected that alignis with the feedstock(s) and target product(s). Early work in bioprocess development may involve lab-scale testing of different types of bioprocesses before making a final decision on the technology type to be optimised.
  • Downstream Processing Steps - Depending on the feedstock and desired end-products, there may be one or more subsequent conversion steps following the primary conversion technology. An example would be the downstream fermentation to bioethanol of the cellulose-derived glucose obtained via dilute-acid hydrolysis (Primary Conversion Technology) of lignocellulosic biomass.
  • Side-Stream Valorisation - An optimal bioprocess should follow the biorefinery principle of cascading-use of biomass where, as much as is practical, all main feedstock elements are valorised. In the example of lignocellulosic bioethanol, one means of side-stream valorisation would be to develop a bioprocess to valorise the lignin-rich side-stream arising after hydrolysis or pretreatment.
  • Product-Recovery and Purification - This stage could involve filtration, centrifugation, distillation, and chromatography, among other approaches. The work can also evaluate the recovery of other saleable chemicals beyond the main target product. Click here to read more about this aspect of bioprocess development.
  • Waste Management - There should be an emphasis on reducing, reusing, or recycling waste streams where possible.
  • Process Integrations - CAPEX and OPEX can be reduced by considering ways in which the different nodes of the full bioprocess can be consolidated or how energy and chemical inputs can be shared/conserved between them.
Click below to read more about our Bioprocess Development Services for developing a new bespoke fully-integrated bioprocess.

Get more info...Bespoke Full Process

Celignis's Bioprocess Development Services (BDS)

At Celignis, we have the expertise and infrastructure to work on bioprocess development projects covering all the different approaches outlined above. Below we outline some of the key Stages involved in our Bioprocess Development Services (BDS).

1. Understanding Your Requirements

Prior to undertaking bioprocess projects we learn from our clients what their targets are from the process as well as whether there are any restrictions or requirements that may need to form the boundaries of the work that we undertake. These help to guide us to then prepare a potential bioprocess development project.

If the focus of the BDS is on the improvement of an existing process then it is likely that, at this Stage, we will undertake a preliminary technoeconomic analysis (TEA) of that process. This allows us to examine the process in detail and to identify specific aspects that can be improved in the subsequent experimental work.

2. Detailed Feedstock Analysis

In cases where you have already selected a feedstock for the bioprocess, we would then undertake a detailed compositional analysis (P10 or, ideally, P19) of representative samples of that feedstock.

In cases where the feedstock has not yet been selected we can review your list of candidate feedstocks, selecting top candidates based on our prior experience in their analysis and bioprocessing. If you do not have a list of candidate feedstocks then we can provide one, based on your location and the requirements outlined in Stage 1. We would then analyse in detail these priority feedstocks and come to a decision, based on the compositional data and other relevant factors (e.g. price, supply, consistency etc.) on a selected feedstock for the project.

At this point of the project, the Celignis Bioprocess team typically meet to discuss and prepare a project proposal for the development of the bioprocess from this feedstock. After this proposal is reviewed by the client, and revised if needed, we are then ready to start work on the next Stages.

3. Development of Core Bioprocess

This Stage can, depending on the technology, feedstock, and product, consist of multiple Substages. For example, in a project focused on the production of bioethanol from a lignocellulosic residue (e.g. corn stover) these Stages may include: a pretreatment, hydrolysis, and the subsequent fermentation of the biomass-derived sugars.

Each such Substage will follow a similar approach, in terms of the development and optimisation of the bioprocess. We follow a scientifically-based Design of Experiments (DoE) protocol where the criteria and boundaries for the DoE are formulated in close collaboration with our clients, considering the chemistry of the feedstock(s) and our understandings of the mechanisms of biomass conversion.

It is possible that there may be initial experiments comparing different bioprocessing technologies for one or more of these Substages. Such comparison trials may involve a small DoE covering each technology. Following the selection of the most suitable conversion process then a more detailed DoE will be undertaken to fully optimise the process.

For each experiment we analyse the solid and liquid outputs of the process, leading to a detailed data-set where effects of process conditions on the yield and composition of the various streams can be explored and mapped.

At this Stage we usually recommend that these optimisation experiments are undertaken at the lab-scale (around TRL3) in order to reduce costs and the length of the project. The work may also involve a second iteration of lab-scale experiments (following the completion of the initial DoE) in order to fine-tune the conditions based on the knowledge gained in the initial experiments.

It is possible that the experimental activities, optimising the different Substages in the development of the core bioprocess, can be undertaken in parallel or in sequence (e.g. optimisation of pretreatment, followed by an optimisation of hydrolysis, followed by an optimisation of fermentation). Which approach is most suitable will depend on the specifics of the project, the interdependencies between the stages, and our client's preferred timeline.

4. Product Recovery & Side-Stream Usage

Based on the outputs of the prior lab-scale Stage we can optimise the methods employed for separating and purifying the target product(s). We can also potentially look at the recovery of other compounds from the liquid and solid outputs of the primary process.

At this Stage we can also undertake experiments to valorise any side-streams and residues that may arise alongside the primary outputs. Taking an example of a core bioprocess that is focused on the production of biobutanol from the cellulose component of a lignocellulosic feedstock (e.g. sugarcane bagasse), where that bioprocess involves an organosolv pretreatment, then this Stage of the project can consider means by which the pentose sugars in the liquid output of that pretreatment can be valorised (e.g. used for xylitol production).

As before, the work in this Stage will involve evaluating the effects of varying a number of different process conditions via a detailed DoE being undertaken.

5. Validation at Higher TRLs

Once we have concluded our optimisation of the bioprocess conditions at the lab-scale we can then test those conditions at higher technology readiness levels (TRLs). The scales at which we can operate are dependent on the type of technology employed, but can reach up to 100 litres.

We have all of the necessary downstream equipment to efficiently handle the solid and liquid streams arising from these scaled-up activities.

If we find that there are differences between the yield and compositions of the different streams, compared with our lab-scale experiments, then we can explore the potential reasons for these and work on final tweaks to optimise the bioprocess for higher TRLs.

6. Technoeconomic Analysis (TEA)

The Celignis team, including Oscar our chief TEA expert, can undertake a detailed technoeconomic analysis of the developed process. We apply accurate and realistic costing models to determine the CAPEX and OPEX of simulated and pilot scale processes which are then used to determine key economic indicators such as IRR, NPV and payback periods.

Within these TEAs we can undertake sensitivity analyses to assess the effect of variable costs and revenues on the commercial viability of the process.

Our preferred approach is to include TEA studies at each stage of the development of the bioprocess, so that the process can be optimised in a commercially-relevant way, followed by a more detailed TEA after the process has been optimised and tested at higher TRL levels.

Click here to read more about the technoeconomic analysis (TEA) services offered by Celignis.

Bioprocess Development Projects - Case Studies

Pectin from Agricultural Residues

Celignis has undertaken a bioprocess development project for a client looking to obtain pectin from the residues of their core biomass valorisation technology. The extraction of pectin is complex and challenging and requires careful bioprocess development in order to ensure that the product is obtained in high yields and high purities.

Our work involved the evaluation of a number of different processes for pectin extraction, covering how variations in key process parameters influenced the yield and quality of the final pectin. This initial work led to a core extraction process being selected with additional experimental work then undertaken to optimise the process. Additional tasks in the project included pectin recovery and detailed analysis of the final product(s) in order to ascertain suitable end-use applications. The project also involved the optimised conditions being tested in larger reactors in order to evaluate the scale-up potential of the process.

Bioethanol from Palm Residues

Celignis undertook a bioprocess development project for a client, based in the Middle East, that was targeting the production of bioethanol from the residues of local palm trees. This was a lab-scale vertically-integrated project covering pretreatment, and separate hydrolysis and fermentation (SHF).

The project involved a series of lab-scale experiments focused on optimising the pretreatment conditions so that the yields and commercial viability of the process as a whole could be improved. The next stage of the project then involved optimising the type and dosage of enzymes, as well as other factors such as the solid-loading, in order to maximise ethanol yields from the targeted biomass components.

Biomaterials from Seaweed

Another Bioprocess Development Project undertaken by Celignis concerned the development of a new sustainable process for the extraction, and subsequent modification, of alginate from seaweed. The process developed by Celignis allowed for alginate extraction without the use of harsh chemicals (e.g. bleaches) and also considered the valorisation of process side-streams (e.g. fucoidan, cellulose etc.).

The target of the project were polymers of improved properties for application in a variety of different biomaterials applications. We found that tweaks in the extraction and modification stages of the bioprocess could influence the physicochemical properties of the resuting alginate and could allow the process to be tailored for producing different types of materials for different end-uses.

Bioactives from Tropical Hardwoods

Celignis undertook detailed analysis of a wide variety of tropical hardwood trees for a client. This involved characterisation of different anatomical fractions (e.g. stem wood, bark, foliage) with a particular focus on the composition of the extractives of these feedstocks. We used our QTOF-LC/MS system to profile the diverse and complex array of bioactive compounds present in the samples. We then evaluated the identified compounds and selected key chemicals that could be of high potential value for sale in different markets. We then undertook a review of these compounds, considering their potential value in various markets, the processes that could be required for their separation and purification, and whether other compounds could also be obtained as part of the extraction/separation process. The final output of the project was a list of top feedstocks and chemicals for future bioprocess development.

Sugars from Paper Side-Streams

This project involved the optimisation or process conditions to allow for the production and recovery, in high yields, of monomeric sugars from recycled paper/cardboard streams.

The project involved examining a number of important process variables, including: pretreatment conditions; the type and loading of enzymes; and the duration and conditions of the hydrolysis stage. The final outputs of the project were selected optimum conditions for each of the examined feedstock types and recommendations for further optimisations of the process and future scaled-up activities.

Oligomers from Biomass

We have undertaken a number of projects, for different clients, focused on obtaining oligomeric sugars from biomass, or biomass-derived polymers. In some cases there have been specific requirements in terms of the preferred oligomer chain length and the ratio of monomeric to oligomeric sugars in the final liquid output.

Optimising the bioprocess required a carefully-formulated DoE considering relevant factors (e.g. temperature, enzymes, pretreatment) in the context of the chosen feedstock and the final product requirements. In all such projects that we have undertaken to date we developed an improved bioprocess that allowed for greater proportions of the total carbohydrates in the liquid phase being in the client's targeted product range.

Contact Celignis Bioprocess

With regards to the development and optimisation of bioprocesses, the Celignis Bioprocess team members with the most experience in undertaking such projects are listed below. Feel free to contact them to discuss potential projects.

Lalitha Gottumukkala

Founder of Celignis Bioprocess, CIO of Celignis


Has a deep understanding of all biological and chemical aspects of bioproceses. Has developed Celignis into a renowned provider of bioprocess development services to a global network of clients.

Oscar Bedzo

Bioprocess Project Manager & Technoeconomic Analysis Lead


A dynamic, purpose-driven chemical engineer with expertise in bioprocess development, process design, simulation and techno-economic analysis over several years in the bioeconomy sector.

Dan Hayes

Celignis CEO And Founder

PhD (Analytical Chemistry)

Dreamer and achiever. Took Celignis from a concept in a research project to being the bioeconomy's premier provider of analytical and bioprocessing expertise.

Other Celignis Services for Bioprocess Development

Global Recognition as Bioprocess Experts

Celignis provides valued services to over 1000 clients. We understand how the focus of bioprocess projects can differ between countries and have advised a global network of clients. We also have customs-exemptions for samples sent to us allowing us to quickly get to work no matter where our clients are based.

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Biomass can be rich in bioactive compounds of high value for food, feed, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical applications. We develop bespoke extraction methods suitable for your needs with high selectivity, efficiency and low environmental impact.

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The choice of pretreatment method varies with the type of biomass and the end-product requirements. At Celignis we can determine the most suitable pretreatment for your feedstock and determine the optimum conditions in lab-scale trials followed by higher TRL scale-ups.

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For the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass to monomeric sugars either chemical or biological approaches can be used. At Celignis Bioprocess we can use both methods at scales ranging from flask-level to 100-litres. We have particular expertise in the optimisation of conditions for enzymatic hydrolysis.

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Enzymes are biological catalysts that have a wide variety of applicaitons in the bioeconomy, ranging from the liberation of sugars from lignocellulosic biomass to the functionalisation of biomass-derived chemicals and materials for higher-value applications. We are experts in the design and use of enzymatic approaches.

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Development of fermentation processes requires knowledge of an array of important factors including: biomass, the microbes used, nutrient media, and fermentation conditions. We're experienced in many fermentations and can help you determine and optimise yields of an array of different fermentation products.

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Downstream Processing

How the various outputs (solid and liquid) of a bioprocess are dealt with is often overlooked until later in bioprocess development, leading to excessive costs and complications. We consider and tackle these issues, and others such as product recovery, early-on as being integral to the bioprocess.

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Lab-Scale Optimisations

We consider that optimising a bioprocess at the lab-scale is the most cost-effective approach to explore a range of different scenarios in search of optimal process conditions. Based on the outputs of these experiments we can then test the chosen set of conditions at higher TRL levels.

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TRL Scale-Up

At our dedicated Celignis Bioprocess laboratories we have all the necessary upstream and downstream apparatus to undertake bioprocess projects up to a tehcnology readiness level (TRL) of 6, with reactor and processing capacities of up to 100 litres.

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Technoeconomic Analyses

Our technoeconomic experts can evaluate your bioprocess, considering various scale, technology, and feedstock options. We apply accurate costing models to determine CAPEX/OPEX of simulated and pilot-scale processes which are then used to determine key economic indicators (e.g. IRR, NPV).

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Biobased Chemicals

A large array of chemicals and materials are possible from biomass and wastes. These can involve chemical or biological approaches, or a combination of the two. Based on your desired end-product we can design and test the most appropriate bioprocess.

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From Process Refinements to an Entire New Process

We work closely with you to understand your objectives and timelines. We then propose a project, usually covering a series of deliverables and stage-gates. Often our projects involve optimising conditions at the lab-scale before replicating the conditions at higher TRL levels.

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Research Collaborations

Celignis is active in several bioprocess research projects. These include projects funded by the EU's CBE-JU, with Celignis being a Full Industry Member of the BIC. We're open to participating in future collaborative research projects where our extensive infrastructure and expertise in bioprocesses can be leveraged.

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