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Summation Soundbites: Finding new ways to extract high-value compounds at scale


Tue, 12/06/2022 - 12:00


A chat with Lim Seok Hwan, who recently graduated from the School of Chemical Engineering at the National University of Singapore. A Summation alumnus, he talks about his stint at Allozymes, a startup that leverages its proprietary technology to extract novel enzymes at scale.

What’s a typical day like for you at Allozymes?

During my apprenticeship at Allozymes, I was responsible for finding new ways to produce high-value compounds in large quantities. One of my experiments involved the extraction of carotenoid, a compound that’s popular in the skincare industry. Allozymes wanted to find new ways to extract carotenoid at scale. One of the ways we’re exploring involves using bacteria to encourage rapid production of the compound. That’s a lot more sustainable.

Usually, I’d spend the first 30 minutes at work to plan the day’s schedule. The plan was quite detailed because I had to ensure that I got all of the experiments done in the day. My supervisor would review the schedule and give feedback. Some of the experiments took as long as two hours, so the scheduling helped to minimise downtime.

In addition, the research we were working with was pretty advanced, so to get up to speed, I’d read a ton of research papers from scratch. That also meant a lot of Googling and discussions with my colleagues.

What did you find most interesting about your work?

Through traditional methods of extraction, companies could need up to four tonnes of tomatoes to extract just a few grammes of carotenoid. That’s the analogy we learnt at work.