Research Centre for Sustainable Process Technology


Scale-Up and Downstream Processing


The Scale-Up and Downstream Processing Research Group was established to focus on the developmental work in scaling-up of fermentation processes as well as in the downstream processing for the purpose of separation, purification and polishing of bioproducts. The long term aim is to establish the capacity in terms of human resources, expertise  and facilities in UKM to cater for the biotechnology industry in Malaysia.

The main objectives of the group are:

  • To develop expertise and human capital in the scale-up and downstream processing aspects for production of bioproducts
  • To demonstrate through design and pilot facilities, the integration of upstream and downstream processing in biotechnology industry
  • To commercialize UKM bioproducts


The research focus covers the following areas:

  • Bioreactor – Substrate formulation, optimization, product characterization, hydrodynamic study, kinetic and modeling.
  • Separation and purification – Process development in Membranes, Aqueous two-phase extraction, Supercritical Fluid Extraction and Crystallization, Chromatography and Membrane Chromatography
  • Process optimization and economic assessment of bioprocess engineering


Towards achieving the group objectives, the following phases of implementation are proposed:

Phase 1 (2008-2011)

  • Capacity development with model solutions
    • Enzymes – Cutinase, protease
    • Natural Products – Polygonum minus (kesum) – natural aldehydes
    • Solvents – ABE
    • Food ingredients – gelatine, hydrolysed collagen
  • Development of Methods
    • Bioreactor – Substrate formulation, optimization, product characterization
    • Downstream Processing –
      • Membranes – Ultrafiltration, Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis
      • Aqueous two-phase extraction System (ATPS)
      • Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE)
      • Others – and Crystallization, Chromatography, Spray drying, ion exchange

 Phase 2 (2012-2014)

  • System integration
    • Bioreactor design and production
    • Hydrodynamic study for scale-up
    • Downstream – primary and intermediate recovery and final purification
  • Process modelling and economics
    • Optimization and simulation of large scale enzymatic production
    • Process analysis and economics

 Phase 3 (2015-2018)

  • Patenting of processes
  • External funding – Technofund, CRDF
    • Scale-up
    • Pilot plant
  • Commercialization
    • Industry partner

 Figure 1 shows the road map of the group research focus for the next 5 years until 2015.


Industrial Collaboration

The group is collaborating with a few companies among them:

  • Sime Darby R&D – In 2011, Sime Darby Foundation has grant UKM an Endowment worth RM 15 million to establish the Professorial Chair for Zero-Waste Technology for Palm Oil Industry. Under the Chair, several thrust areas have been agreed upon for collaboration between UKM and Sime Darby. The thrust areas in which the group members are participating are: (i) Hydrogen production from biomass, (ii) Pretreatment for hydrogen production, and (iii) water recycle and re-use.
  • Halagel (M) Sdn Bhd – Halagel has been the main industry partner in the Technofund grant obtained from MOA amounting to 3.6 million. The collaboration has resulted in the establishment of a pilot plant for production of halal gelatin.
  • Altus Technology Sdn Bhd – Altus Technology is a spin-off company formed under UKM Technology Sdn Bhd to further commercialize the technology for production of halal gelatin and hydrolysed collagen.
  • Mewah Oils Sdn Bhd, Klang – The collaboration has been on the development of Supercitical Fluid Extraction system.



Prof. Dato’ Ir. Dr. Abdul Wahab Mohammad
Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Professor, Chemical and Process Engineering
Co-Editor, Journal of Water Process Engineering (Elsevier)