Alessia Valotta

Alessia Valotta
Dipl.-Ing. Dott.ssa
+43 316 873 - 30428

About me

Born in Milan and grown in the South of Italy, after completing my A-levels in 2013 I decided to move to Rome to study Chemical Engineering at La Sapienza University. I completed my Bachelor in 2016 after submitting a thesis with title “Adsorption of Reactive-violet 5 onto de-oiled microalgae”. Shortly after I moved to Graz to start my Master studies in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering. For my Master thesis I joined the research group “Continuous Processes” of Heidrun Gruber-Wölfler at the Institute of Process and Particle Engineering (IPPE) and I have worked on the development and implementation of microreactors for continuous organic synthesis. Immediately after completing my studies I got a PhD student position within the program “CATalytic mechanisms and AppLications of OXidoreductases" (CATALOX) funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).  Since November 2019 I am also employed as University Assistant at IPPE.

Research interests

The focus of my PhD project is to develop a process for multistep catalytic cascade reactions combining both chemo- and biocatalysis in continuous flow. In this regard, my aim is to design an uninterrupted reaction network combining immobilized enzymes and innovative catalysts, as well as conventional packed bed reactors and in-house designed reactors, to produce highly valuable organic compounds. Process Analytical Technology tools, such as inline and real-time sensors, are also implemented in the process to follow the course of enzymatic reactions and study the effect of different parameters on the outcome of the reaction. The main challenges of this project include possible leaching of the enzymes, the choice of a solvent compatible with multiple reaction steps as well as the possible interaction of by-products within the following catalytic step.


  For my experimental work I use various continuous reactors, such as CSTRs, fixed bed reactors and the in-house developed reactors. Also analytical tools such as gas chromatography (Perkin‑Elmer Clarus 500) and HPLC are of great importance. To further characterize the compounds produced, I also make use of NMR and FTIR spectroscopy. Sensor probes are also implemented as inline and real-time PAT tools to monitor various reaction parameters.