In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Bio-Chemicals 2. Types of Bio-Chemicals 3. Making.
Meaning of Bio-Chemicals:
Bio-chemicals are chemicals produced from organic sources known as biomass. Biomass is any living matter that can be naturally and regularly replenished, including agricultural food and feed crop residues, aquatic plants, animal wastes and other waste materials. Bio-chemicals are sometimes called bio-based chemicals, green chemicals, and plant-based chemicals.
Currently, the most popular source for bio-chemicals is corn. Chemicals like ethyl lactate, succinic acid, and polylactic acid are made from corn components, such as corn starch, and are used to make a variety of products, such as plastics, solvents, clothing fibres, paints, and food additives.
Petroleum and Corn:
Petroleum is the oil found underground in certain parts of the world and is the most used energy source in the world. It is used to make gasoline, chemicals, plastics and drugs. Because petroleum is limited in quantity, and cannot be made once the supply has been depleted from the earth, it is said to be non-renewable. Petroleum products are also not environmentally friendly—causing air pollution when burned, and filling up landfills when disposed of.
Biochemical products made from biomass help solve many of the problems associated with petrochemical products. Environmental benefits include less pollution from crude oil extraction and processing, as well as better waste management since the materials are biodegradable. And because biomass can be replenished regularly by nature, biochemical products are said to be renewable.
Types of Bio-Chemicals:
Different types of bio-chemicals are:
i. Commodity chemicals:
These include solvents, fuel additives, lubricants, surfactants, adhesives, and inks.
ii. Fine chemicals:
These include enzymes, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals.
iii. Chemical intermediates:
These include sugars, organic acids, and other monomers.
Bio-chemicals are made from the processing of plant sugars. Currently, corn is being used extensively as a starting material for bio-chemicals.
Making of Bio-Chemicals:
Making Biochemical involves two basic steps:
i. First, organic matter, such as corn, is milled and the sugar is extracted from the raw material. The sugar is then fermented in a controlled environment, much like the fermentation of beer and wine. Some fermentation processes use genetically modified organisms that convert corn-derived sugar to a specific chemical.
ii. Next, a purification process is undertaken where the fermented liquid is purified for the target biochemical through methods such as distillation and electrodialysis. The bio-chemicals are then made into various products, such as plastics and solvents.
The role of biotechnology in the creation of bio-chemicals is crucial. Through fermentation technology, biotechnology enables the processing of common crops and crop wastes, such as corn kernels and corn stalks, to make products such as plastics, textiles, and ethanol. Biotechnology also allows the creation of genetically modified bacteria that can convert plant sugars into an ingredient used in clothing, packaging, and plastics.
New enzymes are also being developed for breaking down plant sugars. Biotechnology also helps scientists better understand the biology of bacteria and enzymes that can be used in bioprocessing, which may enable the development of cheaper methods of biochemical production. Currently, biochemical products are often expensive to produce and are not cost-effective enough to compete with traditional products.
Research in bio-chemicals continues to grow rapidly. Many large multinational companies are investing time and money into producing chemicals that can be economically viable and environmentally friendly.
For example, many chemical companies are teaming up with biotechnology companies to develop products based on bio-chemicals. Cargill Dow currently makes polylactic acid from corn kernels but has plans to switch to cheaper feed-stocks, such as corn stalks, wheat straw, rice hulls, and sawdust, so that bio-chemicals can be more competitive in the marketplace.
Pollution due to the use of petroleum-based products may be eliminated by the use of bio-chemicals. Whereas petroleum-based products do not biodegrade and accumulate in waste landfills, bio-chemicals degrade completely and do not contribute to waste problems. As well, bio-chemicals are made from biomass; therefore, their production and use are sustainable.