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

Background

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

Tasks

  • 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

Requirements

  • 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, khinastnoSpam@tugraz.at


Master Thesis - Comminution of sand for enhancing friction of rail cars

Students following the curriculum of Chemical and Process Engineering or Mechanical Engineering are particularly addressed.

Background

Sand is introduced between rail and wheel to increase the friction between the constituents for improved acceleration and breaking. Thereby this sand is crushed and diffuse dust emissions are produced.

Task

Tests need to be planned, executed and evaluated to learn how the results – expressed by the friction coefficient and the sand comminution performance – are influenced by the operating conditions and how they can be optimized.

Miscellaneous

This project is carried out with an industrial partner (almost 7 billion € turnover in 2019) where the experimental set-up is already present and where the experiments are to be executed (close to Vienna). The master thesis can be written in English or German. Successful completion of courses Particle Technology 1 and Particle Technology 2 is advantageous but not a prerequisite. Of course, expenses related to on-site work will be covered and an additional financial allowance will be granted for 6 months. The project start is scheduled for March 2021 but an earlier or a later start is feasible.

Contact & Supervision:

Gernot Krammer, krammernoSpam@tugraz.at, 0316 873 – 30444

Institute of Process and Particle Engineering, Inffeldgasse 13/I, Graz


Bachelors’ or Masters’ Thesis – Design of (bio)catalytic processes in continuous flow

Background

Continuous flow synthesis has recently emerged as the new paradigm for the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Many benefits come with implementing continuous processes, such as increased throughput, constant product quality, the possibility of controlling and automating the process, increased safety and waste reduction. Continuous flow processes are also widely considered a valid platform where to implement and test new technologies that can change  the way fine chemicals are traditionally manufactured. Lately, there has been increasing interest in the application of biocatalysts as a tool for synthetic chemistry, since it is considered a very promising  and greener alternative to conventional catalysts, which are mostly metal-based. Enzymes have many advantages, such as low toxicity and environmental impact, high activity in mild conditions, and high selectivity. Therefore, the possibility of exploiting the advantages of continuous flow synthesis as well as biocatalysis is very attractive for both researchers and industry. However, still a lot of work needs to be done to increase the feasibility of biocatalysts and to design continuous flow biocatalytic processes that can be industrially competitive.


Figure 1 – Generic scheme of a multistep (bio)catalytic process

The aim of this project is to develop a process for multistep (bio)catalytic cascade reactions for the production of APIs in continuous flow. The process can be flexible and feature different modules: reaction modules that can host packed bed reactors filled with the immobilized enzymes or catalyst, as well as modules for other unit operations (e.g. heating/cooling, mixing, extraction). A great part of the work will be dedicated to identify an optimal immobilization strategy onto innovative supports (e.g. 3D printed, see Figure 2).  The possible challenges include: finding an optimum immobilization protocol that minimizes leaching and optimizes the stability of the enzymes; the choice of an optimal solvent compatible with multiple reaction steps; the possible interaction of by-products 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 2 -  CAD design of a honeycomb type of  support structure

Tasks

  • Literature study on industrial biocatalysis in continuous flow and enzyme immobilization
  • Study of the enzymatic reaction kinetics in batch
  • Design of an adequate continuous process
  • Optimization of the reaction/process conditions
  • Implementation of real-time analytics (e.g. UV-vis probes)

Requirements

  • Background in chemical engineering, chemistry or biotechnology
  • Interest in the above mentioned fields
  • Basic lab work experience

What we offer:

  • Integration in an internationally leading institute (IPPT) of TU Graz
  • Support from the CoSy Pro Team
  • Paid thesis (in case of the Masters’ thesis)

Start
At any time

Contact:
Dipl. Ing. Dott.ssa Alessia Valotta
valottanoSpam@tugraz.at - +43 316 873 - 30428

Assoc. Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Heidrun Gruber-Wölfler
woelflernoSpam@tugraz.at


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

Background

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.

Tasks

  • 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

Requirements

  • 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

Contact
Dr. Christian Witz
0316 873 30416
christian.witznoSpam@tugraz.at


Bachelors’ or Masters’ Thesis - Development of biodegradable protein formulations in solid state

Biopharmaceuticals steadily increase in market share on the pharmaceutical market. New and innovative formulations for biopharmaceuticals such as protein-based drugs are of high interest for the future. Currently biopharmaceutical drugs are either formulated liquid based or freeze-dried.

Our research group focuses on alternatives to freeze drying such es e.g. spray drying (SD, Figure 1 right). The drying of a droplet to a solid particle encompasses three main steps; i) atomization of the feed formulation into micron sized droplets, ii) drying in several drying stages to a solid particle and iii) collection of the produced protein powder. The process parameters (e.g. inlet temperature, volumetric drying air rate, spray rate) and process configuration (e.g. type of nozzle, residence time) strongly interplay with the formulation properties such as viscosity, surface tension or protein concentration (Figure 1). In depth knowledge and sound understanding of the process and formulation correlations with regard to the product should be developed throughout this study.

This work includes literature research on excipient candidates and design of experiments (DoE), followed by setting up a DoE and the classification of excipient properties and performing of drying experiments. We offer you high scientific and industrial relevant work in the emerging field of drying biopharmaceuticals. You will be supported from the IPPE project team and obtain desk and office space. In case of a Masters’ thesis monetary compensation is possible.

Figure 1: Left: protein dispersed in excipient matrix (e.g. polymer); right: schematic representation of a spray dryer. Interplay between formulation properties and process settings on protein and powder characteristics should be evaluated.

Sparked interest?

Contact: Daniela Fiedler,
daniela.fiedlernoSpam@tugraz.at, +43 316 873 30418

Start: as soon as possible


Development of UV-based Reactor to Inactive Virus-particles in Inside Air (Paid Master Thesis)

Background

The current COVID-19 crisis highlights the need to treat inside air, as inside-air viral transmission  is  considered  an  important  route  of  infection.  Interestingly,  UV-based irradiation of virus particles is known to inactivate the virus.  Thus, the goal of the thesis is to develop a low-cost UV-based air flow-through device (UV decontamination reactor) that can be integrated in typical air handling systems in restaurants, movie theatres, concert halls, trains, etc.

Tasks

  • Literature study on available UV-based de-contamination systems  
  • Understanding the requirement of a system in terms of integration in air-handling systems   
  • Basic design of the reactor chamber with respect to UV-exposure and residence time distribution using a simple (e.g., analytical or semi-analytical) model   
  • Air flow optimization via flow simulation (CFD)   
  • Building a prototype of the UV-based reactor   
  • Interaction with Universities that can study the impact of UV on viral inactivation

Requirements

  • Background in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering   
  • Basic computer knowledge   
  • CFD knowledge is an advantage   
  • Interest in developing a novel system

What we offer:

  • Integration in an internationally leading institute (IPPT) of TU Graz
  • Opportunity to be part of a commercialization project
  • Paid thesis

Start: Summer/Fall 2020

Contact

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Stefan Radl
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Khinast
(radlnoSpam@tugraz.at, khinastnoSpam@tugraz.at)


Continuous Cooling Crystallization

Background

For this construction thesis we are looking for a student to design a water bath made of stainless steel for continuous cooling crystallization in a tubular reactor (plug flow crystallizer).

Using such a tubular crystallizer the continuous cooling crystallization process should be carried out in two water baths of different temperature. Each water bath has separate glass inserts which enable the visual observation of the crystallization process within the tubes via a high speed camera. To achieve high resolution images a backlight source e.g. a LED panel in addition to the camera is necessary. Due to the reflection of the water inside the bath the distance between the backlight and the camera should be as short as possible. To keep the tube cycles uniformly immersed and to guide them special tube mountings are also required.

Tasks

  • To design a water bath of stainless steel with glass inserts for the image-based observation of a continuous cooling crystallization within a transparent tubular crystallizer.
  • To make a selection of necessary materials and equipment and process the orders
  • Image-based monitoring and observation of crystal segments via high speed camera and backlight
  • Doing some final experiments to demonstrate the applicability of the two water baths for visual investigations.


Requirements

  • Background in chemical / pharmaceutical engineering or chemistry
  • Basic experience in working with CAD drawing desirable
  • Basic experience in lab work

What we offer

  • Integration in an internationally leading team

Contact

Dipl.-Ing. Alexander Meister, BSc
Inffeldgasse 13 / III, 8010 Graz
alexander.meisternoSpam@tugraz.at



Paid Master’s Thesis - Development of a Dosing Unit for the Production of personalized Tablets

The fact that human beings differ from each other, regarding their physiology, pathology and environment suggests, that not everyone can be treated using the same medication. Therefore, a trend towards personalized medicine is observable. This trend brings up some challenges, as it comes to the production of tablets. The dose of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) as well as the amount of any excipient needs to be dosed accurately, for each individual tablet.

The development of a device being capable to do so, is the goal of this thesis. As the dosing shall be done gravimetrically, the dosing unit will contain a feeder and a weighing cell. A scheme of the set-up and its features can be seen below.


Your work will include the following points:
•    Picking a development environment (LabView, Arduino/Raspberry Pi, …)
•    Picking a weighing cell with sufficient accuracy and fitting dynamic properties
•    Integration of weighing cell and feeder in an environment for control and data acquisition
•    Investigation of the feeding/dosing characteristics of the set-up
•    Development of a self-adjusting dose algorithm

We offer
•    High scientific and industrial relevance (the approach involving this dosing process could speed up the development in pharmaceutical industry and allow to produce personalized medicine)
•    Support from the IPPE project team and Prof. Horn from IRT
•    Desk and office space

Contact:
Andreas Kottlan, andreas.kottlannoSpam@tugraz.at, 0316-873-30419
Starting date: as soon as possible 2020


Paid Master’s Thesis - Investigations on a Sonic Mixing Process

Sonic mixing is a relatively new approach for mixing various systems. The process is used to some extend in pharmaceutical industry to produce powder mixtures and pastes. To achieve a satisfying mixing quality, the system is exposed to vibration with high acceleration and high amplitudes in means of travel. This is commercially realized by using a system working at resonance frequency to minimize the power input.

We aim for a much smaller system size, i.e. the mass of single tablet. This allows us to get rid of the need for a system operated at resonance. Therefore, the frequency can be varied to achieve the most effective mixing process. A schematic sketch of the setup can be seen in figure 1.

This thesis shall bring insight to some specific points:
•    How do the operating parameters, i.e. frequency and amplitude affect the flow pattern within the mixing vessel?
•    How does the “flow regime” within the mixing chamber affect the mixing performance?
•    How do different powders react to different operating parameters?
•    Is it possible to find a robust mode of operation which provides satisfying results for various powder systems?
•    Can coating or granulation processes be done using this setup?

The investigation on these topics shall be done using an existing experimental setup, which can be modified to meet arising requirements. The student shall elaborate a design of experiments which covers the relevant operating range of the used vibration generator and accounts for different powder blends. Once defined, the mixing experiments are to be carried out. The blends, produced in this way, need to be analysed. The search for meaningful analysis methods is part of this work.

We offer
•    High scientific and industrial relevance (the approach involving this mixing process could speed up the development in pharmaceutical industry and allow to produce personalized medicine)
•    Support from the IPPE project team
•    Desk and office space

Contact:
Andreas Kottlan, andreas.kottlannoSpam@tugraz.at, 0316-873-30419
Starting date: as soon as possible


PAID MASTER’S THESIS: Influence of powder composition on macroscopic powder properties

To dedicated students who are interested in the pharmaceutical field (i.e. students of chemical engineering, pharmaceutical engineering, biomedical engineering, pharmacy, or related disciplines), we offer an opportunity to write a paid Master’s thesis.

OBJECTIVE:
Powder processing steps, such as feeding and mixing, are critical in many industries, including the pharmaceutical industry. For example, within a continuous tablet manufacturing environment, powder feeding impacts functionality and quality of the final product. For the rational design of such operations the powder properties need to be known, including the particle size distribution, bulk (poured) and tapped density, flowability, compressibility, electrostatic chargeability and tendency to segregate.

Thus, the development of solid dosage forms and the associated manufacturing processes requires a good understanding of the relationship between powder composition and the properties of the powder.

WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THIS MASTER’S THESIS WE OFFER THE FOLLOWING:

  • Extensive participation in a top-level and industrially relevant research project in an international environment Supervised training in the task
  • Assistance of experienced staff with the implementation of innovative ideas
  • Access to highly modern infrastructure on campus of Graz University of Technology
  • Assistance with the publication of results Adequate compensation and opportunities for personal and professional development

FINANCING:
Compensation on the basis of a service contract

If you are interested in writing your thesis at the process and particle engineering institute of TUGraz, please contact us indicating the reference number. Candidates will be selected on a competitive basis and will be selected without regard to sex, race or nationality.

Contact: Sara Fathollahi (sara.fathollahinoSpam@tugraz.at, 0316 873 30938)


Exploiting Artificial Intelligence in Gas-Particle Flow Simulations

Current trends in advanced multiphase flow prediction aim at the usage of machine learning algorithms and deep neural networks to improve the accuracy and to speed-up numerical simulations. Overall, it can be expected that these tools (and artificial intelligence, AI, in a wider context) will become an important part of numerical modelling used in chemical engineering applications.

The overarching goal of this Master Thesis project is to increase the speed of gas-particle flow simulations (see the right panel in the Figure below) by using an AI-powered prediction algorithm.

Your tasks will include (i) a literature review on the usage of deep learning in numerical simulations, (ii) an investigation related to key parameters of a neural net structure to speed up a widely-used gas-particle flow simulator, and (iii) application of the improved simulator to a use case. The machine learning and deep neural nets will be based on existing open source AI platforms (e.g., Tensorflow), for which expert knowledge is already available at our institute.

Qualification

  • Interest in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Discrete Element Method (DEM)
  • Basics programming skills (Matlab/octave, Python, C/C++ or other), and interest to refine your programming skills during the Master Thesis project

We offer

  • Extremely high scientific and industrial relevance
  • Introduction to the leading open-source gas-particle simulation tools OpenFOAM® and CFDEM®. Support with the AI platform, as well as with respect to programming.
  • Computer power, desk and office space
  • Possibility to publish the results and findings in a scientific journal

Contact

Josef Tausendschön: josef.tausendschoennoSpam@tugraz.at, Stefan Radl: radlnoSpam@tugraz.at

Kontakt
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Michaela Cibulka
Mag.phil.

Institut für Prozess- und Partikeltechnik
Inffeldgasse 13
8010 Graz

Tel.
+43 316 873 - 30403
Fax
+43 316 873 - 1030403
Sprechstunden
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