Master’s thesis - Design of a multistep (photo)biocatalytic process for the production of biopolymers

Photo- and biocatalysis have recently emerged in the field of organic synthesis as greener alternatives to conventional processes, since the combination of both technologies is of great interest to reduce the environmental impact of fine chemical production. However, (photo)biotransformations are limited by the low stability of many enzymes of interest (e.g. oxidoreductases) outside living cells, their cofactor dependency, as well as poor light distribution and harvesting. These disadvantages constrain the scale up of photobiocatalytic processes and their industrial application. To overcome these limitations, the utilization of continuous processes could be a solution. Flow reactors pose many advantages, especially due to their small inner dimensions and high surface area, which allow for better heat and mass transfer, as well as improved illumination efficiency.

In this project, continuous flow reactors for whole-cell photobiocatalysis will be investigated and implemented in a multistep process. The stability and activity of photoautotrophic cells as biocatalysts will be optimized by testing different process parameters. The setup will be further expanded to develop a multistep cascade for the production of highly valuable compounds, such a biopolymers, which are relevant to the pharmaceutical industry. The process can be flexible and feature different modules: reaction modules that can host packed bed reactors filled with the immobilized (bio)catalyst, as well as modules for other unit operations (e.g. mixing, quenching, extraction), as shown in Figure 1. The different steps will need to be optimized and tested, and the process will be improved to achieve high space-time-yield. The possible challenges include: finding an optimum light intensity that minimizes cellular photo stress; testing different reactor geometries to improve illumination efficiency; the choice of an optimal solvent compatible with multiple reaction steps; the possible interaction of byproducts within the system. To increase process understanding and efficiency, the possibility of implementing process analytical tools, such as inline sensors for real-time analyses, will be explored as well.

Figure 1Generic scheme of a multistep photo-biocatalytic reaction process.

• Literature study on industrial photo- and biocatalysis in continuous flow and whole-cell immobilization
• Study of the single catalytic steps in batch
• Design of an adequate multistep continuous process (possibly including reactor design)
• Optimization of the reaction/process conditions
• Implementation of real-time analytics (e.g. UV-vis probes)

• Background in chemical engineering, chemistry or biotechnology
• Interest in the above mentioned fields
• Lab work experience (master student level)

What we offer:
• Integration in an internationally leading institute (IPPE) of TU Graz
• Support from the CoSy Pro Team
• Paid master Thesis

At any time

Dipl. Ing. Dott.ssa Alessia Valotta     +43 316 873 – 30428
Assoc. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Heidrun Gruber-Wölfler

2 Master Thesis Projects - Chemical Engineering (Verfahrenstechnik) or Chemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering (CPE)

Trocknung und Lagerung und von Monomeren in der Polymerproduktion

Die Qualität von Monomerpartikel ist von entscheidender Wichtigkeit für die finalen Eigenschaften vieler Polymerprodukte (z.B. Acrylglas, Lacke, etc.). Bei der Herstellung von Monomerpartikeln ist der Trocknungsschritt von hoher Wichtigkeit für mögliche Veränderungen der Partikel während der Lagerung, die in weiterer Folge das Produkt beeinflussen.

In Zusammenarbeit mit unserem Partner (einem großen Hersteller dieser Monomere) vergeben wir zwei Masterarbeiten für Verfahrenstechnik- bzw. CPE-Studierende. Ziel dieser Arbeiten ist eine tiefgreifendere Analyse der chemischen und physikalischen Veränderungen während der Trocknung bzw. der Lagerung eines granularen Monomers. Diese Analyse erfolgt großteils auf Basis von experimentellen Arbeiten, z.B. Partikelgrößenanalyse, MS, HPLC, oder einem neu zu entwickelnden Trocknungsexperiment. Weiters ist für den Teil „Trocknung“ die Weiterentwicklung eines Berechnungsprogrammes, sowie eine Auslegung durch­zuführen.Abbildung: Ein typisches Produkt unseres Projektpartners (Bildquelle:

Wir bieten:

  • höchste industrielle und wissenschaftliche Relevanz
  • modernste Ausrüstung am Institut
  • Unterstützung durch das Projektteam am IPPT (Analyse, Literatur, Aufbau eines Trocknungsexperimentes, Software)
  • Schreibtisch und Büroräume
  • Vergütung (Anstellung bei unserem Partner, oder am Institut)


Stefan Radl,, 0680 / 12 22 168

Heidrun Gruber-Wölfler,, 0316 / 873 30406.

Möglicher Startzeitpunkt: ab April 2022

Paid Master Thesis or Student Job - Developing a Novel Drug Delivery System for Special Patients


The Institute of Process and Particle Engineering is a world leader in the development of pharmaceutical products and processes.

In this context, we are offering a paid master thesis where the student is employed at an external company.

The goal of the master thesis is to create the basis for product development, focusing on a novel drug delivery system where the medicine is contained in a flavored gel, either as solution, emulsion or suspension. Drug delivery occurs via breaking a seal of a snap-package and sucking out the flavored gel. Target patient populations includes:

  • Geriatric patients (frail & old patients)
  • Pediatric patients (kids)
  • Emergency applications


  • Literature study on competitor products and patent situation
  • List of the 20-30 most important medicines for the three target populations and corresponding biopharmaceutical classification
  • Research on formulation strategies (solutions, emulsions, suspension) with sufficient stability
  • Selection of 3 model APIs (different categories) and formulation of the gels
  • Stability testing under stress conditions


  • Background in pharmaceutical sciences, pharmaceutical engineering or medicines
  • Student in pharmacy, pharmaceutical engineering, chemical engineering or related

What we offer:

  • Integration in an internationally leading team
  • Opportunity to be part of a commercialization project
  • Paid thesis

Start: Spring 2021

Contact: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Khinast,

Paid Master Thesis or student job: Comparing Bioreactors with different scales and/or geometries


The Institute of Process and Particle Engineering is a world leader in the development of simulation tools for industrial-scale bioprocessing units, funded by the Spin-Off Fellowship Program of the FFG. For example, our current code can model processes in large-scale bioreactors, up to 200m3 .
We are therefore offering a student job with the possibility to do a master thesis with the goal of creating a comparison algorithm for bioreactors. The objective is to find the influencing factors that determine the productivity difference between reactors. This should be done by comparing reactors of different scales and for reactors at the same scale but different geometry and should aid scale up or process transfer processes in the industry.


  • Literature study on available influencing factors or comparison concepts for the production in bioreactors using cells or microorganisms
  • Propose an algorithm for the comparison of reactors
  • Do scale ups or process transfer virtually


  • Background in biotechnology, biochemistry, molecular microbiology or similar
  • Being familiar with industrial production in bioreactors

What we offer:

  • Integration in an internationally leading team
  • Opportunity to be part of a commercialization project
  • Paid thesis

Start: Fall 2020

Dr. Christian Witz
0316 873 30416

Michaela Cibulka
+43 316 873 - 30403
+43 316 873 - 1030403