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Image of mechanical gear and DNA for article on synthetic biology.
Published On: June 14th, 2022

The use of industrial synthetic biology is not new; however, it’s become a rapidly growing field in recent years. Synthetic biology is considered to be a multidisciplinary field between engineering and life sciences. It favors a top-down approach, where only parts of biological systems are modified in the process.This top-down approach is characterized by designing and constructing living systems up from the DNA level. Current and potential applications can include fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and food.

It’s estimated that synthetic biology-based markets that use industrial chemicals will expand by 15 to 25 percent in the upcoming years.

Read on to learn more about industrial synthetic biology and how it is used in synthetic biology applications.

Industrial Synthetic Biology: Synthetic Biology and Industrial Biotechnology

On its own, industrial biotechnology allows a wider scope of biological processes in manufacturing bio-based goods and products. A good example of early biotechnology was the creation of artemisinin acid as treatment for malaria. Industrial biotechnology and industrial synthetic biology were originally very pharmaceutically-based. However, in recent years there has been an expansion to other industries.

This recent expansion has somewhat to do with bio-based manufacturing becoming more established. It’s estimated that there will be an expansion of high-volume manufacturing using industrial synthetic biology. It is a hope that using bio-based products in the future will help solve some larger-scale world problems, such as hunger.

Industrial Synthetic Biology: How Is it Used?

There are many industries that use synthetic biology already, and some that are expected to grow. In fact, one of the common synthetic biology products is alcohol due to the long history of using yeast to transform sugar into alcohol through the fermentation process.

Another industry where industrial biotechnology is used is in bioplastics. These bioplastics are made from biopolymers and are used in items such as:

  • Plastic food packaging
  • Sunglasses
  • Mobile phone cases
  • Personal care packaging (e.g., shampoos and conditioners, makeup)
  • Pens

Fabrics are also made through industrial biotechnology. In fact, dyes used with polyester used in clothing, bedding, carpets, blankets, and more can be produced through synthetic biology.

The food and drink industry already depends on synthetic biology. Biochemicals can be used to produce a wide range of food and drink items, such as souring agents, sweeteners, flavors, fragrances, and acidity regulators. Some chemicals are used to ripen bananas so that they’re ready for sale. You’ll also find industrial synthetic biology used in dietary supplements and some herbal products.

It is hoped there will be more advances in biotechnology in the pharmaceutical industry, perhaps producing important medications that were formerly not in existence.

In the future, it’s hoped that industrial synthetic biology can be used in makeup and skin care with the use of extracted cellulose fibers.

It is also possible to use gas from biorefineries to produce power and heat through combustion. Methane can be produced from waste streams and then used to produce electricity. You can also produce energy from algae as a biofuel.

Hudson Robotics has been the leading supplier of automated products for over 38 years. To learn more on how your lab can benefit from industrial synthetic biology, speak to a representative today!