Scaling-up of a B-phycoerythrin production and purification bioprocess involving aqueous two-phase systems: Practical experiences Academic Article in Scopus uri icon


  • One of the most attractive segments in food and cosmetic industries is that of natural pigments. Since some synthetic pigments have been reported to be hazardous for humans, natural pigments obtained through biotechnological processes represent an attractive alternative. Our research group has previously worked on the development of an aqueous two-phase system (ATPS)-based prototype process for the recovery of B-phycoerythrin (BPE), a natural high-value pigment obtained from Porphyridium cruentum. Detailed studies describing the scaling up of ATPS processes from bench scale to pilot plant facilities are not common. In this paper experiences derived from the scale-up of a previously developed process for production and recovery of highly purified (purity defined as the absorbance ratio A545/A280 > 4) BPE are described, where a scale-up factor of 850× was implemented. Characterization of cell disruption with a pilot-scale bead mill allowed efficient BPE release at 2900 rpm, 10% (w/v) sample load, 60% (v/v) bead load and 0.5 mm glass beads and 22 min of residence time with a yield of 1.35 mg BPE/g of wet biomass. BPE was recovered and purified using a strategy comprising isoelectric precipitation, aqueous two-phase fractionation and ultrafiltration. A 54% global BPE recovery yield, with final purity of 4.1, was achieved under optimal process conditions. Considering total costs for raw materials and energy expenditures for one batch, it was determined that the production cost of BPE was of $1.17 USD/mg, which is underneath the commercial price of a BPE standard (>$30 USD/mg). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication date

  • April 1, 2013