Bioprocess Engineering

Bioprocess engineering research is directed towards the application of chemical engineering principles to the development and optimisation of biological processes. A wide range of biological processes are researched, including those using bacterial, fungal and enzymatic biocatalysts. A major focus is the elucidation of process strategies for the enhancement of the organism’s performance and optimisation of product accumulation.

A strong research focus is energy and environmental engineering with the emphasis on the production of fuels and chemicals from renewable biomass. Biological and thermo-chemical process technologies are used to convert lignocellulose into valuable products, to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to capture economic opportunities in the reduction of carbon emissions. The work is tailored to industrial needs, to ensure commercial application of the technologies developed.

Postgraduate research opportunities: Biomass refineries

Research topics

  • Microbial bioprocessing for the production of proteins, enzymes, microbial biomass and metabolites
  • Plant biomass processing by torrefaction, pyrolysis and gasification for the production of fuels and chemicals
  • Plant biomass conversion by fermentation processes to produce fuels and chemicals
  • Plant biomass fractionation into valuable chemicals and biopolymers in a biorefinery, as replacements for fossil-fuel derived products
  • Process modelling for energy efficiency, economic analyses and life cycle assessment of biological and thermochemical conversion processes
  • Conversion of fish wastes into animal feeds and nutraceuticals
  • Agro-processing of grains

Research topics

  • Bacillus lipopetides for plant disease biocontrol
  • Production of bacterial antimicrobials as pharmaceuticals
  • Biosurfactant-assisted bioremediation of hydrocarbon pollutants
  • Renewable fuel from bacterial microbes
  • Key engineering parameters defining optimum bioconversion of hydrocarbons

Staff

 

© 2011 Copyright Stellenbosch University | Department of Process Engineering