Continuous aqueous two-phase extraction: From microfluidics to integrated biomanufacturing
Aqueous two-phase extraction (ATPE) has been used since the 1960s, but even having advantages as high recovery yields and selectivity and relatively low cost, it has not been extensively adopted by the biotechnological industry. Recently, the production of bioproducts is entering a new era, where the continuous mode processes are spreading, and the high degree of integration of the ATPE makes them suitable for this kind of processes, however, few studies were done. The following review presents the brief history and the key challenges of continuous ATPE until nowadays and the main devices used, discussing the importance of the microfluidics in the study and development of continuous ATPE, and it analyses the future challenges. In the end, it can be concluded that continuous ATPE has not overcome some major challenges, but it will be an important tool in the downstream processing of biomolecules.