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Biological and Chemical Engineering

Electrospun 3D Nano-biointerfaces for non-invasive stimulation of excitable cells

Alongside the widely studied pathways of biochemical regulation by chemokines, cytokines and growth factors, one often-overlooked but significant influence over the behaviour of biological systems is electrical/electromagnetic signaling. Biological systems are rich in electrical activity. In particular, neural activities are precisely controlled by the membrane potential, which modulates either neuronal firing to trigger the signaling transporting over long distances. Inspired by the nanoscale features at cellular surface components (e.g., microvilli and filopodia) and extracellular matrix, the interactions between live cells and nanostructured materials in cellular environment have been studied. A unique technique that has gained tremendous attention in the last decade as the most robust, straightforward nanofiber processing method is electrospinning, which utilizes high voltage electric fields on extruded liquid containing virtually any polymers, composites or supra‐molecules to generate continuous submicron fibers.

This PhD project is aimed to apply the electrospinning technology and tissue engineering tools to build biocompatible fibrous hydrogel nanobiointerfaces that recapitulate the 3D in vivo environment for non-invasive stimulation of excitable cells. It will mainly involve the study of electrospinning of different synthetic or biopolymers with control over mechanical and topographical properties, surface chemistry and characterizations, bioconjugation, in vitro cell biology assay and in vivo animal studies.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Electrospun 3D Nano-biointerfaces for non-invasive stimulation of excitable cells 

PhD student: Jordi Amagat Molas 

Contact: jordi@eng.au.dk

Project period: Nov 2019 to Oct 2022

Main supervisor: Menglin Chen 

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Unveiling the role of H2 in the cathodic electron uptake by acetogenic bacteria

Laura Daniela Munoz Duarte

Some acetogenic bacteria have the capacity to use cathodes as electron donor for the reduction of CO2 into more complex compounds like acetate. This capacity can be applied for the development of highly interesting technologies, such as microbial electrosynthesis. This biotechnology combines the upgrading of CO2 to biofuels with the storage of excess renewable electrical energy. So far, however, the mechanisms by which acetogenic bacteria obtain electrons from cathodes are not well understood.

The objective of this PhD is to investigate the role of H2 as a mediator in the cathodic electron uptake mechanism of acetogens. This work will determine the H2 threshold of several acetogenic strains and measure the H2 partial pressures at the cathode surface. In addition, the role of H2 in the electron uptake from metallic iron (Fe(0)) by acetogenic bacteria will be examined. The latter process is highly analogue to the electron uptake from cathodes and plays an important role in microbial induced corrosion. The elucidation of the cathodic electron uptake mechanism of acetogens will allow to optimize microbial electrosynthesis and will contribute to its further development.   

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Unveiling the role of H2 in the cathodic electron uptake by acetogenic bacteria

PhD student: Laura Daniela Muñoz

Contact: laura.munoz@eng.au.dk

Project period: Oct 2019 to Sep 2022

Main supervisor: Assistant Professor Jo Philips

Co-supervisor: Associate professor Alberto Scoma

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Novel methods for measuring gaseous emission dynamics from open sources

Yolanda Maria Lemes-Perschke
Yolanda Maria Lemes-Perschke

The aim of this project is to implement and validate methods for measuring emission of harmful gases from open sources in agriculture with focus on greenhouse gases (GHG, methane and nitrous oxide), ammonia (NH3) and odour emission from stored livestock manure.

A key part of the study is to:

  • Understand the chemical and microbial processes that influence GHG and NH3 emission      from the stored manure.
  • Combine novel micrometeorological flux measuring techniques with state of art gas measuring instruments (Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy and Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry equipment - PTRMS).
  • Validate the novel measuring method.

During the study, the methods shall be used to provide valid measurement of the annual emission of GHG and NH3 from full-scale manure store on Danish farms. The data is needed for calculating the annual national gas emission inventory, which must be send to the EU in accordance with the Gothenburg protocols.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Novel methods for measuring gaseous emission dynamics from open sources

PhD student: Yolanda Maria Lemes-Perschke

Contact: ymlp@eng.au.dk

Project period: Sep 2019 to Aug 2022

Main supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Anders Feilberg

Co-supervisors: Senior Advisor Tavs Nyord and Prof. Sven Gjedde Sommer

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Nitrogen transformation and greenhouse gas emissions from soils amended with organic waste and derived fertilizer products

Yihuai Hu
Yihuai Hu

This project is part of an interdisciplinary cross-sectoral European Training Network “REFLOW” entitled “Phosphorous Recovery for Fertilisers from Dairy Processing Waste”. The REFLOW research will (1) mitigate the environmental impact of dairy processing waste on soil and water, (2) provide safe environmentally-sustainable, cost-effective closed-loop solutions for crop nutrient management (3) meet the demand for skilled professionals to support the technical, regulatory and commercial development of the market for recycled phosphorous fertiliser products.

This project is aimed at developing an understanding of the chemical and microbial processes that influence greenhouse gas (GHG) emission (methane and nitrous oxide) and transformation of nitrogen and carbon in the organic waste and fertilizer products following application to soil. The project will include the following activities:

  • Chemical and physical characterization of organic wastes and fertilizers.
  • Laboratory incubation studies on N and C transformation and emission of CO2, N2O and CH4.
  • Field experiments with organic wastes and fertilizer products to measure crop N uptake and N2O, CO2and CH4 emission.
  • Apply or develop a model of GHG fluxes from soils amended with organic waste and fertilizer products.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Nitrogen transformation and greenhouse gas emissions from soils amended with organic waste and derived fertilizer products

PhD student: Yihuai Hu

Contact: hyh@eng.au.dk

Project period: Sep 2019 to Aug 2022

Main supervisor: Prof. Sven Gjedde Sommer

Co-supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Sasha D. Hafner

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Processing of brown juice from leaf protein concentrate production for high value-end applications

Natália Hachow Motta dos Passos
Natália Hachow Motta dos Passos

Green biorefineries are integrated multi-product systems for efficient and sustainable production of food, feed, bio-based chemicals and materials from green biomasses. This multiple product approach requires the valorization of any side streams in order to ensure the economic sustainability and success of the overall process.

Brown juice is a nutrient-rich liquid side stream generated in large volumes during leaf protein concentrate production from grasses, lucerne and clover within a green biorefinery. Brown juice contains sugars, peptides and amino acids, organic acids and minerals. 

This project aims to investigate the possibilities of processing brown juice into high-added value products. Technologies such as membrane filtration and fermentation will be evaluated and compared using a techno-economic approach. As brown juice is a complex and varying mixture, further research is necessary on mapping its composition and characteristics over time, and on the viability of its processing into valuable products such as chemicals and materials.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Processing of brown juice from leaf protein concentrate production for high value-end applications

PhD student: Natália Hachow Motta dos Passos

Contact: nhm@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2019 to July 2022

Main supervisor: Prof. Lars Ditlev Mørck Ottosen

Co-supervisors: Assistant Prof. Morten Ambye-Jensen

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Pre-treatment technologies for enhanced biodegradability of sludge and lignocellulosic biomass in anaerobic digestion

Cristiane Romio
Cristiane Romio

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a process by which microorganisms transform organic materials (such as manure, crop residues and wastewater sludge) under oxygen-free conditions into biogas, nutrients and additional cell matter (Montané et al., 1998). Biogas has CH4 and CO2 as main components and it can be used for heat and electricity generation, as a vehicle fuel and as a substitute for natural gas (Weiß et al., 2016).

In the first step of AD, hydrolysis, microorganisms produce and excrete enzymes that breakdown and solubilize large molecular structures into smaller components (Parawira et al., 2005). Hydrolysis has been considered as a rate-limiting step of AD and its efficiency can be increased by biomass pre-treatments, which aim to change the material structure and make it more accessible for enzymatic attack.

This PhD project will focus on the enhancement of biogas production through the application of biological pre-treatment on biomass, such as ensiling, enzymatic and fungal aerobic pre-treatments. Enzymatic pre-treatment simply applies industrial enzymes to the biomass to increase hydrolysis efficiency. Fungal pre-treatment relies on the capability of some fungi on selectively decomposing lignin (a fraction of plants which is useless for AD). This way, cellulose and hemicellulose (plant fractions relevant for AD) get more accessible for further AD. Ensiling is based on the preservation of biomass under anaerobic conditions, using bacterial fermentation to prevent further degradation. The low pH achieved by the acids produced during bacterial fermentation inhibits the activity of other microorganisms (Teixeira Franco, Buffière, & Bayard, 2016). Due to the low pH, a slow hydrolysis takes place, which can improve biogas production (Martínez-Gutiérrez, 2018).

 

References:
Martínez-Gutiérrez, E. (2018). Biogas production from different lignocellulosic biomass sources: advances and perspectives. 3 Biotech, 8(5), 233. doi.org/10.1007/s13205-018-1257-4

Montané, D., Farriol, X., Salvadó, J., Jollez, P., & Chornet, E. (1998). Fractionation of wheat straw by steam-explosion pre-treatment and alkali delignification. Cellulose pulp and byproducts from hemicellulose and lignin. Journal of wood Chemistry and Technology, 18(2), 171-191. https://doi.org/10.1080/02773819809349575

Parawira, W., Murto, M., Read, J. S., & Mattiasson, B. (2005). Profile of hydrolases and biogas production during two-stage mesophilic anaerobic digestion of solid potato waste. Process Biochemistry, 40(9), 2945-2952. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procbio.2005.01.010

Teixeira Franco, R., Buffière, P., & Bayard, R. (2016). Ensiling for biogas production: Critical parameters. A review. Biomass and Bioenergy, 94, 94–104. doi.org/10.1016/J.BIOMBIOE.2016.08.014

Weiß, S., Somitsch, W., Klymiuk, I., Trajanoski, S., & Guebitz, G. M. (2016). Comparison of biogas sludge and raw crop material as source of hydrolytic cultures for anaerobic digestion. Bioresource technology, 207, 244-251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2016.01.137

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Pre-treatment technologies for enhanced biodegradability of sludge and lignocellulosic biomass in anaerobic digestion

PhD student: Cristiane Romio

Contact: cristiane.romio@eng.au.dk

Project period: June 2019 to May 2022

Main supervisor: Senior Researcher Henrik Bjarne Møller

Co-supervisors: Researcher Michael Vedel Wegener Kofoed

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Mining the unexplored microbiome to produce high-value biopharmaceuticals

In nature, microorganisms use enzymes to modify peptides to complex natural products with new and improved properties. Our main hypothesis is that we can exploit the enzymes from known natural products’ biosynthesis to introduce peptide modifications that are currently inaccessible or only accessible through synthetic means.

Our main focus is on Ribosomally synthesized and Post-translationally modified Peptides (RiPPs) expressed as a precursor peptide with a leader and core region. The leader peptide is recognised by co-expressed enzymes, encoded in the biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC), next to the precursor peptide. This means that the recognition sequence is decoupled from where the modification-/s takes place.

In the beginning, we will focus on two different modifications, unnatural amino acids and disulphide mimics contributing to resistance towards proteases, general stability and structural rigidity leading to increased biding affinity. When this is settled, we aim to expand the technology to cover different kinds of modifications and a combination of these.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Mining the unexplored microbiome to produce high-value biopharmaceuticals

PhD student: Camilla Kjeldgaard Larsen

Contact: camillakjeldgaard@eng.au.dk

Project period: Feb 2019 to Jan 2022

Main supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Thomas Tørring

Co-supervisors:  Anne Louise Bank Kodal, Novo Nordisk

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Hydrothermal liquefaction of waste materials as a key technology for a circular economy of the chemical industry: A systematic approach to solve the engineering challenges

Juliano Souza dos Passos_AU Foto
Juliano Souza dos Passos

Demands for energy, materials and food are intrinsically connected to increasing world population, industrialisation and modern life style. The current linear economic model based on extraction of natural resources and disposal of wastes cannot cope with the societal demands in a sustainable manner.

Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) is a thermochemical process that uses hot and compressed water to convert a broad range of carbon-based materials into biocrude – a material similar to crude oil.

The project aims to determine the potential of HTL in relation to converting mixed waste streams that contain synthetic- and bio-polymers, e.g. municipal solid waste, agro-waste, sewage sludge, into biocrude. The technology has shown incredible potential for this application, though the lack of knowledge about the behaviour of such complex waste mixtures under hydrothermal conditions has yet to be addressed.

A future fossil free chemical industry requires new carbon sources. Waste streams containing synthetic- and bio-polymers are an under-utilised option to be considered, so understanding the efficiency, composition and potential of HTL products is necessary if a circular economy is to be achieved.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Hydrothermal liquefaction of waste materials as a key technology for a circular economy of the chemical industry: A systematic approach to solve the engineering challenges.

PhD student: Juliano Souza dos Passos

Contact: jsp@eng.au.dk

Project period: Feb 2019 to Dec 2021

Main supervisor: Assistant Prof. Patrick Biller

Co-supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Marianne Glasius and Assoc. Prof. Lars Ottosen

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Light-induced biocatalytic reductions

Luca Léo Schmermund
Luca Léo Schmermund

Enzymes have become a recognised and green tool in organic synthetic chemistry due to the generally mild and environmentally friendly conditions required for the reactions. At the time, methods were developed to perform chemical reactions by using light. These light reactions showed an extended substrate scope and proceeded under milder conditions compared to the light-independent alternatives. Therefore, this research project focus on the combination of photoreactions with enzymes in order to obtain sustainable reaction processes. For this purpose, a photoenzyme will be used in this project. Photoenzymes are light-driven enzymes that require light to perform a chemical reaction. Without light, no reaction is possible. The photoenzyme can serve as a starting point to replace hazardous and toxic reagents which are widely used currently in chemical reactions by light. This would be a very important step towards greener chemistry since light generates no waste, is non-toxic and can be obtained from renewable sources nowadays.

The overall goal is to find new reactions that are not feasible with chemical methods at the moment, and to find more sustainable reaction methods by using these photoenzyme. Therefore, a detailed characterisation of the substrate scope and features of this special photoenzyme are necessary. During the project, a secondment at the Aarhus University will focus on the optimisation of the process for industrial relevant applications. Furthermore, an industrial placement is planned at a pharmaceutical company in the UK. There will be the opportunity to work with a newly developed photoreactor and to investigate the influence of different light sources on photobiocatalytic reactions.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 764920.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Light-induced biocatalytic reductions

PhD student: Luca Léo Schmermund

Contact: luca.schmermund@eng.au.dk

Project period: April 2018 to March 2021

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Selin Kara

Co-supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kroutil, University of Graz, Austria

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Water oxidation for FMN-dependent redox reactions

Nowadays, our demands on synthetic organic chemistry are higher than ever, and consequently, very specific reactions have to be applied to fulfill these requests. Herein, selective oxyfunctionalizations are of particular interest since they bring up the possibility to produce high-quality bulk chemicals as well as highly valuable fine chemicals. Suchlike reactions can be catalyzed by chemicals, which (often) requires harsh and hazardous conditions resulting in high-cost downstream processes, such as product purification, and suffer from the absence of selectivity.

These challenges can be overcome by the application of environmentally friendly and selective biocatalysts, e.g. enzymes. However, these enzymes in particular oxidoreductases require the assistance of additional components such as other enzymes or cofactors to ensure the catalysis of suchlike complex reactions. For example, oxygenase reactions require (natural) electron mediators, which increase costs in in vitro applications (when applied outside of the cell).

The PhD project “Water oxidation for FMN-dependent redox reactions” aims to overcome this as well as other technical obstacles by using efficient inorganic water oxidation catalysts (WOCs) instead of natural electron mediators. Such artificial mediators apply the energy caused from light to oxidize water into oxygen, while the liberated electrons will be transferred to catalyze the oxygenase reaction. Herein, a natural enzyme-associated compound – FMN – will function as an electron shuttle from the WOC to the enzyme, where the reaction can take place.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 764920.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: Water oxidation for FMN-dependent redox reactions

PhD student: Robert Röllig

Contact: roellig@eng.au.dk

Project period: Sep 2018 to Aug 2021

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Selin Kara

Co-supervisor: Dr. Vèronique Alphand and Dr. Katia Duquesne, Aix-Marseille University, France

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Extended reach interventions

Johannes Liljenhjerte
Johannes Liljenhjerte

When very long pipes/rods are subjected to a significant compressive load, instabilities can occur in the form of buckling. A phenomenon that can be observed by placing a long slender ruler vertically on a table and then press down its top edge until it starts bending.

This project is focusing on the oil and gas industry where kilometers long coiled tubings (CT) are injected into oil wells (of length up to 12km) for various operations such as removing scales or releasing chemicals. A build-up of compressive forces form due to friction between the CT and well casing. This build-up of compressive forces can initiate different buckling modes along the length of the tubes that eventually end up in a helical shape on the inside of the well. When this happens, friction between the tube and well increases to an extent where the tube locks up inside the well and thus can reach no further.

In this project, a novel solution to reduce friction and provide increased structural integrity for the tube is proposed. The desired properties and viability of the solution are investigated computationally and later experimentally, before introducing it in the field.

Instabilities in pipes/rods appear across various length scales and industries, thus the investigation can find its usefulness in other contexts as well, for example when inserting catheters into the body, jamming nanorods into confined channels or DNA packing inside viral capsules.

 

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:  Extended reach interventions

PhD student: Johannes Liljenhjerte

Contact: jl@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2018 to July 2021

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Jens Vinge Nygaard

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Reaction engineering and up-scaling of light-driven in vitro oxidative lactonizations

Alex Cordellier
Alex Cordellier

Lactones represent an important class of substances used in a wide range of applications; however, their current chemical syntheses raise several issues of waste and energy management.

Biocatalytic approaches were developed employing oxidoreductases, namely alcohol dehydrogenases (ADHs) to synthesize lactones starting from diols, using natural cofactors as redox mediators. For the in situ regeneration of these cofactors, different methods have been evaluated so far. Among these recycling strategies, the use of light as the driving force presents the advantages of being applicable in a broad range of reaction conditions and being an environmentally benign strategy with reduced waste generation and energy demand.

Starting from this “green” reaction system, the aim of the PhD study is to develop a highly productive photobiocatalytic process for the synthesis of both bulk and fine lactones. First, a rigorous evaluation of the reaction system, i.e. screening and optimisation of reaction conditions, will be realised to design a suitable reactor type and operation modus. A secondment at the University of Graz will focus on the optimisation of the process by screening different ADHs and evaluating techniques of enzyme immobilisation. The improved process employing immobilised enzyme preparations will then be assessed. The economic and ecological evaluation of the developed process will be performed during another secondment at the Technical University of Denmark. To finish, the up-scaling of the model system will be applied for fine lactone's synthesis during a third secondment with the industrial partner Chiracon GmbH (Germany).

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:  Reaction engineering and up-scaling of light-driven in vitro oxidative lactonizations

PhD student: Alex Cordellier

Contact: alex.cordellier@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2018 to July 2021

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Selin Kara

Co-supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kroutil, University of Graz, Austria

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Medium engineering for light driven in-vitro hydroxylation

Markus Hobisch
Markus Hobisch

Enzymes are applied in a wide range of chemical reactions. They can run reactions at mild conditions, saving energy and reducing toxic waste.

During the last years, the use of light for enzymatic synthesis has attracted great attention, especially in oxidoreductase-catalyzed reactions. Water has been applied as the main reaction media for biocatalysis, which, in turn, might result in poor solubility of hydrophobic substrates, consequently, leading to low productivities.

Medium engineering is the solution to overcome this limitation. Instead of water, the use of non-conventional media, e.g. organic solvents or neat substrates, will be evaluated within the PhD study.

A likely side effect of these efforts might be decreased enzyme stability, resulting in lower activity. To ensure sufficient enzyme activity under those non-conventional conditions, various immobilisation methods will be employed to stabilise the enzyme. The enzymatic activity, stability, immobilisation yield as well as protein leaching will be evaluated to elucidate the most suitable immobilisation method.

Besides Aarhus University, this research will take place at TU Graz in Austria and TU Delft in the Netherlands.

Finally, the research results will be used to implement this process at a pharmaceutical company in Germany.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Medium engineering for light driven in-vitro hydroxylation

PhD student: Markus Hobisch

Contact: hobisch@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2018 to July 2021

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Selin Kara

Co-supervisor: Professor Robert Kourist

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Characterisation of a convergent cascade for epsilon-caprolactone synthesis

Jennifer Engel
Jennifer Engel

The research project aims at the development of a rational approach for highly productive enzymatic synthesis of a precursor for the biodegradable plastic polycaprolactone: epsilon-caprolactone. In an enzyme cascade system, the lactone product will be converted to oligomer/polymer directly. By doing so, the waste generated by separation and purification steps will be reduced.

To achieve these goals, key reaction parameters, kinetic and thermodynamic effects influencing the productivity in the synthesis of epsilon-caprolactone and its oligomer/polymer products will be systematically described and quantitatively evaluated. The development of a reliable model describing the kinetics of the system is required for the effective design of the multi-enzymatic cascade.

The research will establish an environmentally benign synthesis of epsilon-caprolactone and polymers/oligomers thereof, which will alleviate the severe drawbacks observed in the current chemical approach.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Characterisation of a convergent cascade for epsilon-caprolactone synthesis

PhD student: Jennifer Engel

Contact: j.engel@eng.au.dk 

Project period: April 2016 to March 2020

Main supervisor:  Associate Professor Selin Kara

Co-supervisor: Associate Professor Dirk J. Opperman, University of the Free State, South Africa

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Tandem catalysis by coupling metal/metalloenzyme for biotransformation and new chemistry

The development of green, sustainable and economical chemical processes is one of the major challenges in chemistry. Besides the traditional need for efficient and selective catalytic reactions that will transform raw materials into valuable chemicals, green chemistry also strives towards renewable raw materials, atomic efficiency and high rates of catalyst recovery. Cascade reactions or tandem reaction, i.e. the combination of chemical catalysis and enzymatic transformations in concurrent one‐pot processes, offer considerable advantages: the demand of time, costs and chemicals for product recovery may be reduced, reversible reactions can be driven to completion and the concentration of harmful or unstable compounds can be kept to a minimum. In addition to the common technical advantages for a typical chemical cascade or multi-component enzymatic tandem reaction, cooperative effects between metal and enzyme may take place if they are well-aligned or intercompartmentalized in a well-structured nano-device or biomimick system. More importantly, both metal-complex and metalloenzyme can be engineered for optimal reaction and enable new-to-nature chemistry in a greener, biocatalytic (chemo-enzymatic hybrid) manner.

Based on this background, the main objectives of project are (1) to develop highly effective tandem catalytic system by coupling metal-complex and metalloenzyme catalysis to enable multi-step or orthogonal reactions; (2) to identify synergitic or cooperative effects between metal/bio- catalysts; (3) to construct or create a nano-device or compatible system for optimal performance for a sequence of precisely staged catalytic steps in a single vessel; (4) to produce value-added biochemicals or enable innovative synthesis for new chemistry by engineering a nano-device or engineering metalloenzyme for promiscuous activities. 

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Tandem catalysis by coupling metal/metalloenzyme for biotransformation and new chemistry

PhD student: Rongrong Dai

Contact: diana@eng.au.dk

Project period: April 2018 to April 2021

Main supervisor:  Associate Professor  Zheng Guo

Co-supervisor: Mingdong Dong

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Synthesis and characterisation of low cost batteries

Solveig Kjeldgaard
Solveig Kjeldgaard

Introduction of renewable and intermittent photovoltaic and wind electricity sources in the utility grid will increase the demand for stationary electrical energy storage technologies. In such applications, high energy density has less importance, while a low cost has highest priority. State-of-the art batteries like Li-ion, lead-acid, Iron Nickel and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) have either high capital costs, short lifetime or a combination of both, which makes them unsuitable for large scale storage of electricity.

This project is focused on research into a new aqueous battery based on manganese oxide as the positive electrode and redox active polymerized anthraquinone (PAQ) as the negative electrode. Both MnO2 and PAQ have extreme low cost potential (< 10 $ kWh-1 for the electrode material) and are environmentally benign. The results can serve as the starting point for a larger application oriented project for upscaling this battery technology.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: 
Synthesis and characterisation of low cost batteries

PhD student: Solveig Kjeldgaard

Contact: solveig@eng.au.dk

Project period: Nov 2017 to Oct 2020

Main supervisor:  Associate Professor Anders Bentien

Co-supervisor:  Professor Bo Brummerstedt Iversen

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Feasibility of sustainable polyester materials in high end consumer products

Emil Andersen

The LEGO Group wants to reach a goal of sustainability by 2030, including the replacement of materials used in core products, e.g. elements, packaging and building instructions. The new sustainable materials are required to live up LEGO's three non-negotiable characteristics: durability, safety and quality. This project will establish methodologies for evaluating these three characteristics in polyesters.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Feasibility of sustainable polyester materials in high end consumer products

PhD student: Emil Andersen

Contact: emil.andersen@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2017 to July 2020

Main supervisor:  Associate Professor Mogens Hinge

Co-supervisor:  René Mikkelsen, LEGO

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Ammonia emissions dynamics following land application of liquid manure

Johanna Maria Pedersen

Nitrogen losses from agricultural systems is a major international societal and environmental challenge. Ammonia (NH3) losses from land applied manure is accountable for about 1/3 of the total NH3 emissions form Danish agriculture, and is thereby a large contributor.

The aim of the PhD project is to develop measuring methods for gaseous emissions following land application of liquid manure by optimising and evaluating dynamic chambers for measurements in the field. These methods will be used to measure emission dynamics of NH3 and odorous gasses over time. The effect of different application systems will be measured along with important parameters controlling the emissions, such as soil water content, soil type, soil surface characteristics and soil porosity.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: 
Ammonia emissions dynamics following land application of liquid manure

PhD student: Johanna Maria Pedersen

Contact: jp@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2017 to July 2020

Main supervisor:  Associate Professor Anders Feilberg

Co-supervisor: Senior Advisor Tavs Nyord

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Development and application of a Lab-on-a-Chip ammonia sensor for measuring emissions from hybrid ventilation livestock facilities and area sources

Jesper Kamp Jensen

There is much focus on emission of ammonia from farming industries. Ammonia is often difficult to measure because it sticks to almost all surfaces, which gives long response time when comparing different concentrations. Accurate and reliable sensors are important in order to quantify emissions.

The overall aim of the project is to develop a novel micro-scrubber miniaturised ammonia sensor using fluorescence detection. The project consists of the following activities: 1) Development of micro-scrubber design and configuration. 2) Development and test of a fluorescence analytical system. 3) Characterisation and validation of lab-on-a-chip sensor at laboratory scale. 4) Field validation and inter-comparison test.

The sensor is developed for a low-energy hybrid ventilation concept and will be tested and applied for hybrid-ventilation livestock facilities. Furthermore, the sensor will be used to validate manure application techniques to minimise emissions of ammonia.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Development and application of a Lab-on-a-Chip ammonia sensor for measuring emissions from hybrid ventilation livestock facilities and area sources

PhD student: Jesper Kamp Jensen

Contact: jk@eng.au.dk

Project period: May 2017 to April 2020

Main supervisor: Lise Lotte Sørensen

Co-supervisor: Associate Professor Anders Feilberg

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass, can super-thermostable “enzyme biofluid” be a new pathway

Jacob Nedergaard Pedersen

There is a growing interest to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources such as lignocellulosic biomass and convert this into fuels, e.g. bioethanol and chemicals in the so called integrated biorefinery process. A major obstacle to competitive biomass utilisation is the lack of cost-effective technologies for processing lignocellulosic biomass into fermentable sugars. The natural cellulose is very resistant to enzymatic breakdown and a pretreatment is needed to make the crystalline structure of cellulose more susceptible to depolymerization. So far, ionic liquids have shown promising results in solubilizing lignocellulosic biomass. However, the usual celluloses are inhibited in most ionic liquids.

The aim of this project is to develop a new form of celluloselysis enzymes that have super-termostability, high activity and are resistant to solvent inhibition. This will be done using the so-called “enzyme biofluid” concept, where the enzymes are enclosed in an anionic polymer corona. Another aim is to develop an ionic liquid processing system for the deconstruction and enzymatic breakdown of lignocellulosic biomass to produce fermentable sugars in high yield and with a high efficiency.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass, can super-thermostable “enzyme biofluid” be a new pathway

PhD student: Jacob Nedergaard Pedersen

Contact: jnp@eng.au.dk

Project period: Sept 2016 to Aug 2020

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Zheng Guo

Co-supervisors: Postdoc Bianca Pérez de Lucani

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Effects of enzyme inhibition on environmental impacts of manure processes

Frederik Dalby

This PhD project is part of a larger project titled Next Generation Manure Ammonia Reduction Technology (ManUREA Technology). The PhD project constitutes a sub-project aimed at developing methods for assessing manure processes and their effects on gaseous emissions.

Loss of nitrogen sources, e.g. ammonia, from agricultural systems currently remains a major international societal and environmental challenge. Ammonia emissions arise from intensive livestock production as well as from management of manure as fertilizer. Bacteria present in animal manure hydrolyses urinary urea into ammonia via an enzyme called urease. By treating manure with newly identified urease inhibitors, ammonia emissions from animal manure can potentially be reduced by 70-85 per cent compared to untreated manure. However, the adverse or beneficiary side effects of utilising urease inhibitors are not well understood.

Therefore, the aim of this project, is to assay the environmental effects of urease inhibitors in manure with respect to not only ammonia emissions but also methane production, cycling of sulfur compounds and emissions of volatile organic compounds. Other aims of the project are to optimise the manure treatment with regards to scaling and examine the effect of urease inhibitors on different methanogenic pathways.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Effects of enzyme inhibition on environmental impacts of manure processes

PhD student: Frederik Dalby

Contact: fd@eng.au.dk

Project period: Aug 2016 to July 2019

Main supervisor: Associate Professor Anders Feilberg

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Process Development of Large Scale Biomethanisation

Mads B. Jensen

This PhD project is part of the ElectroGas project which concerns storing electricity and carbon. In order to substitute fossil fuels for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, it is a key necessity that surplus energy from renewable electricity production can be stored for later use. Currently, adequate storage possibilities are lacking.

One potential solution is to convert excess renewable energy into hydrogen and feed it to an anaerobic digester used for biogas production. Conventional biogas consists roughly of 50/50 methane and carbon dioxide, but microorganisms present in the reactor can readily react the carbon dioxide fraction with hydrogen to produce additional methane. Hence, surplus energy is converted into methane, which can be stored in the existing natural gas grid. A main issue for this technology is that hydrogen gas is not readily transferred to the microorganisms in the anaerobic digester due to poor solubility. The scope of this PhD project is therefore to develop technical solutions for the addition of hydrogen to full-scale anaerobic digesters.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title: 
Process Development of Large Scale Biomethanisation

PhD student: Mads B. Jensen

Contact: mbje@eng.au.dk

Project period: May 2016 to April 2019

Main supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Lars Ottosen

Co-supervisor: Postdoc Niels Vinther Voigt

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering


Decarboxylative Trifluoromethylations performed safely using Continuous Flow – Flow Reactor Design and Scale-up

Martin Bundgaard-Johansen

The trifluoromethyl group (CF3) is an important functional group in drugs and agrochemical substances as it induces greater metabolic stability, perturbation of pKa values and effects changes in ground state conformations. The usage CF3-donors are limited to small-scale research and development purposes because they normally are highly specialised and expensive. Metallic trifluoroacetate-derivatives might be a potential CF3-donor in a decarboxylation reaction but current methods using these derivatives require super-stoichiometric use of copper(I)-mediator and elevated temperatures (140-200°C). Evolution of carbon dioxide at high temperatures might lead to hazardous situations and therefore calls for extraordinary measures in order to prevent run-away of the reaction and/or carbon dioxide production.

The main focus of this project is to perform the synthesis of CF3-containing molecules using a metallic trifluoroacetate-derivative as CF3-donor and a catalytic amount of copper(I)-mediator in a closed continuous flow system which offers several advantages compared to classical batch synthesis. Some of the advantages include excellent heat/cool transfer properties due to a high surface/volume ratio, short reaction times, complete pressure control, straightforward scale-up and, most importantly, increased operator safety.

ABOUT THE PROJECT


Project title:
Decarboxylative Trifluoromethylations Performed Safely using Continuous Flow – Flow Reactor Design and Scale-up

PhD student: Martin Bundgaard Johansen

Contact: bundgaard@eng.au.dk

Project period: Nov 2015 to Aug 2020

Main supervisor: Prof. Troels Skrydstrup

Co-supervisor: Assistant Prof. Anders Thyboe Lindhardt

Research section: Biological and Chemical Engineering