Statin synthesis via heterogeneous (bio)catalysis (Paid Master Thesis)

Statins are the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of many cholesterol lowering drugs. Their structure consists of the typical statin side-chain possessing two chiral alcohols linked to a heterocyclic core. This side-chain can be synthesized from simple and inexpensive starting materials via a two-step aldol condensation catalyzed by an enzyme called DERA (2-deoxyribose-5-phosphate aldolase). The side-chain can either be directly built at the core of the molecule or linked to the heterocyclic core subsequently via a C-C coupling reaction catalyzed by Palladium.

The goal of this work is to investigate the biocatalytic step in this synthetic route. A number of substrates, such as acetaldehyde, chloroacetaldehyd, benzaldehyde and cinnamaldehyde, will be testes as acceptors in the aldol condensation. The obtained product will be characterized and evaluated according to their potential for serving as intermediate in the synthetic route of statins. Further the enzyme (enclosed in E. coli cells) will be immobilized in order to apply it in a continuous process.

The results of this thesis will serve in the development of an integrated multistep process for the synthesis of statins consisting of a biocatalytic and a metal-catalyzed step.

The objectives of this work are:

  • Substrate screening in batch
  • Immobilization of the enzyme/cells for the application in a continuous process
  • Purification and characterization of the products (NMR)

We offer:

  • payment according to the FWF-rate (€440/month)
  • a comprehensive introduction to the research topic
  • access to novel experimental and analytical devices
  • individual assistance for an efficient realization of the thesis

Start: March 2018
Contact: Bianca Grabner (, 0316 873 30409)

Fractionation of Fibre Suspensions

Current trends in paper and pulp production aim on product diversification covering new markets, e.g., fibre-plastic compounds. Separating fibres by length may become a crucial process step in future. Answering to this future need, we developed a novel fractionation device in a collaborative project with industry.

The master student will prepare construction drawings using CAD, preferably SolidWorks. Prior skills from a technical high-school (HTL) are of advantage, but not required. The master student will receive training in the handling of the fractionator, image recording and post-processing with our existing high-speed camera.


We offer

·          high industrial and scientific relevance (i.e., a novel separation process which will be applied in “real-world” trials at a paper mill)

·          bleeding edge high-speed camera equipment and image post-processing routines

·          support from the project team at IPPT and IPZ

·          desk and office space

·          Remuneration: 6 months á 440€.


For details CLICK HERE.



Transport Limitations of Non-Catalytic Heterogeneous Reaction

Bachelor thesis project with a focus on heat and mass transfer in porous particles. For details CLICK HERE.

Modeling of Cohesive Particulate Matter on the Computer

Cohesive particulate matter is of central importance for chemical engineering, as well as a plurality of other sciences, e.g., space or earth sciences that are interested in the mechanical properties of particulate systems. While a variety of particle-scale models for cohesive systems are available (e.g., models for van der Waals forces), the effect of model details on bulk properties (e.g., the yield locus, or the bulk density) are not well explored. Also, most available force models were built for infinitely stiff particles. This image of infinitely stiff particles conflicts with the assumption of Discrete Element Method (DEM)-based simulators that rely on (often very) soft particles.

We are looking for two enthusiastic students. More details are available HERE.

We offer

·           high industrial and scientific relevance (e.g., for powder processing, petroleum engineering, or space science)

·           computer(s) with installed, fully documented, and tested DEM simulation software LIGGGHTS®. Tutorials, screencasts, and personal training on the DEM simulator can be provided. Based on the interest of the student(s), an introduction to C/C++ programming can be provided to allow students to extend the simulation software

·           desk and office space for writing the bachelor thesis



Stefan Radl,; 0680 / 12 22 168. The bachelor thesis projects can be started earliest by April 1st 2017. However, thesis work during the summer months would be preferred.

Paid Master Thesis - Concept development of a manual capsule opening device

Swallowing issues of standard tablets and capsules is an increasing issue in delivering especially higher dosed medicines to patients. One of the most promising approaches is the use of small multiparticulate systems that can be dispersed in food or beverages for administration. In order to achieve a precise dose of the medicine, a precise dose of multiparticulates is filled into two piece capsules, which are opened before the administration.

This thesis will focus on the engineering concept development of a capsule opening device by simple manual opening mechanism. This master thesis will include a variety of different research tools from literature research to engineering concept development and preliminary functional assessment. The master student will be supervised by myself and supported by PhD students.



·         Understanding in mechanical systems and engineering

·         Motivation and creativity towards problem solving

·         Interest in working on medical device development and human factored design

We offer

·         A project that matters the patient and is highly relevant for the pharmaceutical industry

·         A thesis in the fast evolving field of patient centric drug products

·         Coaching and career development support

·         Financial support during the thesis work



Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sven Stegemann

TU Graz - IPPT


Phone: +43 316 873 0422

Characterization of the Microenvironment in a Film Coater

Detailed understanding of film coating processes is of utmost importance for designing drug products that are sensitive to heat and moisture during production. Conditions such as the local temperature (of tablets or particles), local humidity, as well as the film thickness on the particles are critical quality attributes that determine film formation. Unfortunately, there is a lack of quantitative information on how these critical quality attributes affect the coating process. Since it is tedious to perform experimental studies to answer such questions, simulations can help in collecting data to establish a quantitative and mechanistic understanding of the coating process. 

The thesis‘ work will focus on performing a literature research on film coating and drying process, characterization of the „microenvironment“ by means of dimensionless numbers, and computer simulations to quantify the relevance of these dimensionless numbers on the coating process. For the latter, computational tools will be used to simulate the coating and drying of liquid film on the spherical particles. Theoretical developments will complement computational work. 


  • strong background in particle technology and/or heat and mass transfer,
  • motivation to conduct state of the art computer simulations, and
  • programming skills (Matlab; knowledge of C/C++ is a plus, but not required)

We offer

  • a topic relevant for many industries, and hence for your future career as an engineer;
  • advice with respect to literature data, software, as well as financial support.

Contact: Ass.-Prof. Dr. Stefan Radl  (, 0680/12 22 168)
Possible Start Date: February 2015 or later

Master thesis Characterization of microenvironment in a coater

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Diploma or Master Thesis in Cooperation with AVL List GmbH

Effect of Particle Parameters on the Initiation of Condensation

Prediction of the condensation rate of vapors on particles is of fundamental interest for a variety of engineering applications, like nano particle detection, application of coatings to nano particles, or the formation of clouds in the atmosphere. Specifically, the very early stage of the condensation process, typically referred to as nucleation, is of interest, since this stage determines whether condensation does occur or not. Starting with the seminal work of Fletcher (1958), a sound theoretical framework for heterogeneous nucleation on spherical particles has been built in the last decades. Unfortunately, there are significant gaps in our current understanding of the condensation rate on particles with a more complex morphology. The proposed Master Thesis aims on providing a theoretical basis for closing this gap.

The thesis’ work will focus on developing a theoretical understanding of the effect of the contact  angle and the morphology of the particle on the initiation of condensation. Specifically, the thesis  should include (i) an analysis of relevant literature, (ii) computational studies to investigate the shape of liquid droplets on a variety of morphologically-complex particles, as well as (iii) a theoretical analysis to predict heterogeneous nucleation phenomena on these particles.
This thesis is sponsored by a world-wide leading company in the field of particle analysis, i.e., AVL List GmbH. Appropriate financial and technical support will be provided by AVL List GmbH (€ 2500, plus optional extra payment of € 800); academic supervision will be provided by the Institute of Process and Particle Engineering.


  • excellent background in fluid mechanics and particle technology,
  • motivation to conduct state of the art computer simulations, and
  • programming skills (i.e., Matlab)

We offer

  • a topic relevant for many industries, and hence for your future career as an engineer;
  • direct contact with researcher from a leading company in the field;
  • advice with respect to literature data, software, as well as financial support.  

Dr. Stefan Radl, TU Graz (; 0680 / 12 22 168)
Dr. Alexander Bergmann (
DI Tristan Reinisch (

Start Date April 2015

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Michaela Cibulka

Institut für Prozess- und Partikeltechnik
Inffeldgasse 13
8010 Graz

+43 (316) 873 - 30403
+43 (316) 873 - 1030403
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