Bionet is one of the four industrial partners of the GreenProtein Project and one of the main partners involved in the construction of the GreenProtein Demo Plant. The GreenProtein Demo Plant was officially opened on the 10th of October of 2019 and since then it has been active. This is a key step to improve process efficiency and for solving problems for the future transition to industrial scale production.

In this post, Bionet answers to some questions about the GreenProtein Demo Plant. 

What is exactly a “Demo Plant”?

A Demo Plant is an installation with capacity between pilot and production scale used to demonstrate the feasibility of a process before scaling it up

Ruth Ordóñez

Bioprocess Specialist, Bionet

That is, a step in between a small-scale test of the process and the final industrial facility. This in-between step was a key milestone for the GreenProtein project, which had the goal of designing and implementing specific equipment to establish a demonstration plant.

The steps to build the GreenProtein Demo Plant

The construction of the Demo Plant started on March 2019 (Picture above) but planning began months before. Approximately, it took about a year to have the Demo Plant up and running (Heading picture). According to Bionet, some of the most relevant steps taken during this year were:

  1. First, throughout research about the state of the art on the extraction, purification and isolation of the RuBisCo Protein – the most abundant protein on earth.
  2. Second, it was necessary to carry out trials at lab scale to validate each step of the process with the final aim of maximizing RuBisCO recovery (Picture 3).
  3. Third, contact with suppliers in order to share with them the results of the previous analysis and to receive from them their proposals and quotations.
  4. Selection of the most suitable technology/supplier.

How to select the technologies for the Demo Plant?

In order to select the technologies that a Demo Plant will finally use, it is important to stablish a criteria that determines what parameters are relevant. In the case of the GreenProtein project, some of the main parameters that were evaluated and used to select the technologies were:

  • Maximum product recovery (maximum yield).
  • Flexibility of supplier to adapt his technology to the specific process.
  • Delivery time.
  • Rental availability.

What was the main technical challenge encountered?

According to Bionet, the main technical challenge encountered while building the GreenProtein Demo Plant was avoiding proteins losses during the clarification steps of the purification process of the RuBisCo protein.

Currently, the Demo Plant is getting ready for the next harvest, which will begin at the in end of the spring of 2020. With the experience and data obtained so far, the process will be improved to produce an optimum quality final product. This harvest will mark the ending of the project, which will finalise at the beginning of 2021.

Pictures: BIONET

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