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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
White Biotechnology

White or more commonly known as industrial biotechnology is used to produce all kinds of products used in daily life – ranging from bread and cheese to biodiesel to microbial strains and bio catalysts. It also involves fermentation and enzymatic processes that are fast becoming better financial and ecological alternatives to chemical-physical and mechanical processes and applications by virtue of being cost effective and more environment friendly.

White biotechnology is a prime example of interdisciplinary cooperation. Its technology pool is generated from as diverse areas as chemistry, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, chemical engineering, agriculture science, informatics, computer engineering and process engineering. New insights, in particular in genome research and systems biology, are currently giving great impetus to white biotechnology revolutionizing the whole industrial application and processes and thereby resulting in greater economies.

Use of bio technology in industrial application is also leading to introduction of environmentally-friendly methods and processes in various industries such as the food, textile, mining, cosmetics and paper industries. Currently only 5% of chemical products are produced using biotechnological methods. McKinsey report titled “Uptake of white biotechnology by the chemical industry”) has stated that an increase of 10 to 20 percent in 2010 is expected – with further future growth tendency. This is expected to give good sound bytes to green peace volunteers.

There exist more than 3,000 different known enzymes of which only 150 to 170 are used commercially. There is therefore a huge research potential waiting to be exploited. Other challenges include the optimisation of methods and the enzymes involved. Washing agents are probably the best-known example of the biotechnological use of enzymes. Using biotechnology has a significant effect on cost: washing without enzymes requires nearly twice the energy as compared to when enzymes are used. Enzymes also render the entire production flow more competitive and environmentally-friendly. A good example is its effect on the textile industry: the use of enzymes in washing processes in textile purification leads to a reduction of energy and water consumption of up to 50 percent.

White biotechnology is also used in water purification involving bacteria and the application of renewable materials. Products such as bio fuels like biodiesel, bioplastics etc. have a promising future and have opened great research opportunities for mutual benefits of research institutions and industrial houses.

Greater research into the field of white biotechnology acts as a three pronged strategy. It gives a boost to the research initiatives, leads to greater industrial output and enhanced commercial and financial gains and at the same time leads to use of technology which are more environment friendly and less polluting. Needless to say that more and more funds will continue to flow into this arena as the gains are enormous and mutual for all those involved in the process.

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