UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Downstream Processing for Engineers

Course Code
Level Two
Credits 1
Module Tutor
Professor Ajoy Velayudhan

Exam 50%
(unseen 3hr written examination) 

2 x Presentations 25%
(one hour each and 1,000 words)

Coursework 25% 
(5 x 2,000 word reports)


A series of lectures and associated laboratory experiments on the principles and practice of downstream processing. This course follows on from the material provided in BENG101P, works together with BENG204P to establish the foundations of mass and energy balances in downstream processing, and is a key foundation for the final year design project.


  • The recovery and purification of biological products from complex sources such as fermentation or cell culture represents the major challenge for the provision of safe and effective materials, e.g., for therapeutic use.
  • Particle recovery and purification processes are examined as the early stages in the recovery and purification of biological materials.  Operations include centrifugation, filtration, membrane separation, precipitation and crystallisation.  Complementary extraction operations include liquid/liquid reaction and cell disruption.
  • High resolution purification and finishing operations take the material to final form for use- operations include chromatography, affinity separation, spray drying and freeze drying.
  • Given time limitations, only a subset of these operations will be studied in detail. Ultra-scale down of critical operations will be discussed in lectures and as a practical. Other experimental studies include an overall downstream processing study and a monitoring and control study.
  • At the completion of the course, the student should understand the principles underlying the important unit operations of downstream processing, and be able to apply them to basic problems.

For more details please contact Professor Ajoy Velayudhan.