Microorganisms are performing many chemical reactions. This ability can be applied for the production of industrial chemicals. Genetic techniques enable us to modify the microbial metabolism. Our objective is to adapt the microbial metabolism, so that the product is produced at maximum theoretical yield, whereas also ATP is produced to support growth and maintenance.
To provide solutions to efficiently convert biomass into chemicals and fuels using microorganisms.
- Bioreactor design
- Metabolic engineering
- Genetic modification
The performance of microbial processes can be expressed by the conversion efficiency of the substrate into the product (yield), the rate at which the product is formed (productivity) and the concentration of the end-product (titer). The yield is often limited due to the formation of by-products; the productivity is often suboptimal due to oxygen-transfer limitations and the final titer can remain low due to the toxicity of the produced chemical. These challenges can be overcome by changing the design of bioreactors or by modifying the microorganisms.
The feedstocks used in microbial processes can often also be used as food or feed. This is an unwanted situation. But the use of feedstocks that are inedible to humans and animals, like lignocellulose materials, also poses challenges, as these are harder to metabolize by microorganisms. What is the best way to proceed?
The subgroup Microbial Biotechnology of Bioprocess Engineering is tackling these challenges and tries to solve them by developing new break-through technologies and processes. We do this by applying technologies like gene modification, metabolic engineering, metabolic modeling, fermentation technology, enzyme assays, analytical techniques, and so on.