Background: The development of bio-inspired materials is of high interest to produce advanced materials able to improve the quality of life through sustainable industrial production. Membranes associated/functionalized with biomolecules, are very suitable to develop biohybrid and biomimetic systems, because they simulate the biological membrane compartmentalization. This system integration, could be divided into membrane bioreactor (MBR) or biocatalytic membrane reactor (BMR) on the basis of biomolecule state (immobilized on the membrane or not) and on membrane role. Potentially, these systems could be used in various fields including food, pharmaceutical etc. Nevertheless, the technology funds industrial application just in water treatment, where it is recognized as the technology of choice.Objective: Although some examples of industrial applications in food and pharmaceutical field already exist, the technology in the mentioned sectors is at an emerging development state. In this review, recent progress of MBR/BMR technology in food, pharmaceutical and biofuel production was reported. Special emphasis is given to patent analysis and systems developed by industries, in the mentioned application fields, with the aim to demonstrate the potentiality of MBRs in non-conventional application fields and inspire the future research activity.
Keywords: Membrane bioreactor, biocatalytic membrane reactor, pharmaceutical applications, food applications, biofuel applications, biotechnology, patents development, industrial applications.