Industrial biotechnology is a field related to the use of live cells or components of live cells for generating industrial products and processes. Typically industrial biotechnologists are concerned with the creation of products such as biodegradable plastic material for domestic and industrial usage, replacing petroleum based feedstock with biomass-based fuel material generated through the biomass material processing in bio-refineries and using it for generation of electricity, transport fuels, and chemicals. Industrial biotechnology processes often find applications such as the reduction of hazardous material in processing industries through novel techniques. There are a number of techniques recently developed by industrial bio-technology experts, such as industrial waste water treatment using microbes.
At present industrial biotechnologists are concerned with three major domains; industrial supplies (biochemicals, enzymes, reagents for industrial and food processing requirements), environmental studies for pollution prevention and green world promotion, and energy replacements.
Apart from basic principles of chemical engineering and mathematics, biotechnology graduates typically work on advanced microbiology, biochemistry and enzymology, instrumentation methods, cell and molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics, quantitative methods and fermentation technology, biology of the immune system, food technology, developmental biology, pharmaceutical technology, environmental biotechnology, genomics and proteomics, as well as intellectual property rights and the concepts of bio-business. Increased global concerns towards environmental cleanliness make industrial biotechnology more and more significant. In addition to the direct and indirect environmental benefits (reduced energy consumption, reduced green house gas emissions, reduced waste generation), industrial biotechnology also contributes to industrial performance enhancement and product value improvements. All of these factors contribute to the increased popularity of industrial biotechnology.
Microbial technology forms the core of industrial biotechnology, which consists of using microbial technology for making a product of economic value. Anaerobic digestion, waste treatment technologies, bio-control agent production, food product fermentation, and bio-based fuel and energy generation are some of several popular microbial technology based developments in the industrial biotechnology domain. Generation of valuable metals from low grade ores using microbes is one other recent development in industrial biotechnology domain. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are also important, and are actually promising a large scope for further development.
Typical industrial biotechnology students are expected to be knowledgeable in a number of areas of science which span biochemistry, microbiology and pharmacology. Other related skills are investigative and research skills, information handling skills, and decision making and problem solving skills. Industrial biotechnology professionals find prospects in pharmaceutical companies, research and academic institutions, and industry. From product development to process control there are a number of divisions where an industrial biotechnologist can render services. The major challenge in front of industrial biotechnologists is to make the biotechnology based processes as efficient, fast, and competent as conventional chemical processes.
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