Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

Exploring China Opportunities: Bio-manufacturing converts waste into useful products


A biotechnology center under construction in Pingliang, northwest China's Gansu Province, November 12, 2023. /CFP
A biotechnology center under construction in Pingliang, northwest China's Gansu Province, November 12, 2023. /CFP

A biotechnology center under construction in Pingliang, northwest China's Gansu Province, November 12, 2023. /CFP

New innovations in the field of bio-manufacturing are transforming industrial exhaust into useful products, unlocking new potential in a trillion-dollar market.

Bio-manufacturing uses living organisms such as bacteria, cells and enzymes to create products such as hepatitis B vaccines, insulin, hyaluronic acid, collagen, and fuel ethanol via bio-manufacturing.

China has included bio-manufacturing as one of the key emerging industries for innovative development.

Shougang LanzaTech, a subsidiary of Shougang Group, has developed a high-nutrient protein for fish, which is made out of the industrial exhaust from steel-making process. The innovative process takes industrial exhaust from steel-making and uses gas fermentation technology with the help of some bacterial strain to convert it into protein and ethanol.

Tan Tianwei, president of the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, said two key advantages about the technology are using organisms under room temperature and pressure, and  using renewable materials during the transformation, which is environmental friendly.

Experts say that bio-manufacturing will bring about major changes in at least three aspects: reconstructing the production method, replacing the acquisition method of traditional natural products, and innovating the traditional agricultural breeding model.

China has over one trillion cubic meters of industrial exhaust resources from industries such as steel and metallurgy, petrochemical refining, and cement production. If 50 percent of it is utilized, 5 million tonnes of feed protein can be produced annually, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 120 million tonnes, and saving 160 million tonnes of food, saving 400 million acres of cultivated land.

Waste from agricultural and forestry can also be repurposed via biotechnology. A new project in Hailun, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, was launched where the straw is used to produce bioethanol, the first of such projects in the country.

The stacks of straw will be purified and then its structure will be popped from inside – just like popcorn. Then the biological enzyme will be added so the straw can be hydrolyzed into fermentable sugar, which will be turned into alcohol with yeast.

By using straw to produce alcohol, the grain can be saved for the food supply.

Currently, the project can only produce 30,000 tonnes of alcohol by using 150,000 tonnes of straw. But such technology is paving a way for a mass production in the future.

Another cutting-edge biotechnology is to synthesize carbon dioxide into starch. In September 2021, the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published their latest research results on international journal Science, embarking a new path for the industrial production of starch.

In the future, as bio-technology keeps making new breakthroughs, it can expand its use in more fields including mining, metallurgy, electronic information, environmental protection.

Search Trends