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Bioprocessing and Fermentation Technology for Biomass Conversion

Adeline A. J. Wall
Harifara Rabemanolontsoa
1,* and
Joachim Venus
International Advanced Energy Science Research and Education Center, Graduate School of Energy Science, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy, Max-Eyth-Allee 100, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2024, 14(1), 5;
Submission received: 8 December 2023 / Accepted: 18 December 2023 / Published: 19 December 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioprocessing and Fermentation Technology for Biomass Conversion)
In an era where concerns about climate change intersect with the global energy crisis, there is a growing emphasis on alternative resources. To address the problems associated with traditional manufacturing processes using fossil fuels, there is an increasing interest in sustainable methods based on renewables [1].
Biomass is defined as any organic material derived from plants and animals. It is an abundant renewable resource and encompasses a wide range of feedstocks, including agricultural residues and forest waste [2], algae [3,4,5], cyanobacteria [6,7,8], and even food-industry-related or municipal solid wastes [9,10]. However, effectively harnessing the energy within this diverse resource poses significant challenges. Traditional combustion methods are not only inefficient but also produce harmful emissions, exacerbating the climate crisis.
Bioprocessing and fermentation technologies offer sustainable and clean alternatives [11], with a carbon-neutral process offsetting the carbon dioxide released during combustion with the carbon dioxide absorbed through plant growth. This closed carbon cycle makes biomass a crucial component of efforts to provide alternatives to fossil fuels, minimize waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat climate change, and promote sustainability and energy security. These methods operate via the production of value-added products in a proficient, clean, and cost-effective manner, contributing to more sustainable economic growth and an environmentally conscious society [9,12,13].
In particular, converting organic waste such as agricultural residues (e.g., corn stover, wheat straw), forestry litters (e.g., wood chips, sawdust), and various industrial and food wastes [10,14,15] into valuable products helps to reduce the environmental impact of waste disposal and facilitate nutrient recycling. Biomass can be transformed into a range of valuable products, including biofuels, biogas, chemicals, bio-based materials, and even biopharmaceuticals [2,4,6,7,8,9,16,17]. This adaptability enables the efficient utilization of biomass across diverse industries.
At the core of this technology are microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, and fungi, as well as their enzymes harnessed to convert biomass [15,18]. Bioprocessing typically involves breaking down complex organic molecules into simpler compounds for the production of value-added products [19]. This process mirrors the natural recycling system, making it a compelling choice for a greener future. Recent advancements in bioprocessing and fermentation technology, along with related fields like metabolic and genome engineering, have enhanced economic viability [16,20]. Continuous research and development have led to more efficient engineered microorganisms [21], improved renewable feedstock sources, optimized fermentation processes [14], and the innovation of bioreactor designs [5]. These improvements can lower production costs, increase product yields, and expand the scope of biomass conversion applications. (Bio-)process analytical techniques (Bio-PAT) play a crucial role in the development of precise fermentation processes. It involves the use of various analytical tools and methods to monitor and control the key parameters of a process in real time. Bio-PAT can assist in improving process understanding, efficiency and ensuring product quality. These tools are valuable in scale-up and scale-down studies where the fermentation process is transferred from the laboratory scale to a larger industrial scale or vice versa. This helps to maintain consistent conditions and ensure reproducibility [22].
However, challenges remain on the path to the widespread adoption of bioprocessing and fermentation technology [23]. Advances in biorefineries reveal technical and economic limitations, including high costs related to feedstock pretreatments, enzymes used in hydrolysis operations, and the recovery and purification of final bioproducts [2,16,24,25]. The upstream and downstream processes involved need improvements to reduce the production costs [4,16]. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of the interactions between enzymes, metabolic pathways, and microorganisms will open up future research interests [18,20].
To achieve carbon neutrality and even negativity, collaborations between governments, industries, and researchers are essential to conduct life cycle assessments (LCAs) that include social, cultural, economic, and operational aspects [1,26]. Partnerships between research institutions and private enterprises with technological innovation could lead to the development of “advanced biorefineries” [11]. For example, multifunctional concepts coupling waste-generating industries with biorefineries could reduce waste disposal costs and generate income through the production of value-added bioproducts [9,24]. Gradually replacing or improving existing industrial processes using bioprocessing methods can also lead to more sustainable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly outcomes [19,27,28]. With growing public awareness of the environmental impacts and the valorization of waste disposal, the linear economy based on fossil fuels is finding a path to evolve into a circular bioeconomy [26].
In conclusion, bioprocessing and fermentation technology for biomass conversion represent a promising avenue for addressing the urgent challenges of climate change, energy security, and sustainable development [3]. Continued investment, innovation, and collaboration in cross-disciplinary research areas can pave the way towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future, supporting economic growth while providing alternatives to fossil fuels, minimizing our ecological footprint, and creating wealth.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, H.R. and A.A.J.W.; validation, H.R., A.A.J.W. and J.V.; formal analysis, A.A.J.W.; investigation, A.A.J.W.; resources, A.A.J.W.; writing—original draft preparation, A.A.J.W.; writing—review and editing, H.R. and J.V.; visualization, H.R.; supervision, H.R. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Wall, A.A.J.; Rabemanolontsoa, H.; Venus, J. Bioprocessing and Fermentation Technology for Biomass Conversion. Appl. Sci. 2024, 14, 5.

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Wall AAJ, Rabemanolontsoa H, Venus J. Bioprocessing and Fermentation Technology for Biomass Conversion. Applied Sciences. 2024; 14(1):5.

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Wall, Adeline A. J., Harifara Rabemanolontsoa, and Joachim Venus. 2024. "Bioprocessing and Fermentation Technology for Biomass Conversion" Applied Sciences 14, no. 1: 5.

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