Stage-Internship (Master's Degree)

13/06/22

Location

Rodenhuizekaai 1, Desteldonk, Belgium

Vacancy

Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant werd opgericht in 2008 en telt momenteel meer dan 130 medewerkers.

We werken in een unieke, open innovatie piloot- en demonstratiefaciliteit voor de procesontwikkeling, opschaling en (proef)productie van biogebaseerde producten en processen, van laboratorium tot multi-ton schaal.

We combineren een groot en flexibel gamma aan modulaire eenheidsoperaties met een team van uiterst gekwalificeerde en ervaren bio-proces ingenieurs en technici om biogebaseerde processen op laboratoriumschaal te vertalen naar rendabele industriële processen.

Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant wil dé werkplek zijn, waar alle medewerkers kunnen groeien en hun potentieel ten volle kunnen benutten. We bieden een prettige sfeer, waarderen en belonen initiatief, hard werken en inzet.

https://www.bbeu.org/

Below is a list of topics for which we have internship vacancies as of February 2023 or August 2022 (depending on the topic)

TOPIC 1 - Process development and scale-up for the fermentative production of L-lactic acid from 2G feedstocks (Interns already selected- not available anymore]

In the framework of the Flemish FUCATIL project, this research will focus on the sustainable production of biobased L-lactic acid (L-LA), starting from second-generation (2G) feedstocks such as old paper and cardboard. An efficient production process for L-LA will be developed that goes far beyond the state of the art. An engineered industrial yeast strain will be used which efficiently produces L-LA by anaerobic fermentation. Yet, to obtain an industrially competitive process, advanced fermentation development and fine-tuning is key. Therefore, this internship aims to investigate different fermentation strategies, including batch, fed-batch, continuous with or without cell recycle, and to optimize the most important process parameters such as pH, temperature, aeration and medium composition.

Besides this, the sustainable and economical recovery of purified LA presents the principal challenge in fermentative LA production today. Therefore, in situ product recovery (ISPR) will be assessed as an innovative strategy to improve the fermentation performance and efficiently obtain purified LA. Different techniques will be investigated, including (reactive) extraction, enzymatic esterification, and adsorption to specific resins. Then, the integrated production and isolation of high-purity L-LA will be fine-tuned and scaled up to industrially relevant scale (150 L). [PDB, EU]

TOPIC 3 - Cultivation of industrial high-value biomass with enhanced viability (available as of November 2022)

The commercial interest in functional foods that contain live microorganisms, also named probiotics, has been steadily increasing over the past decade. While lactic acid bacteria have become a fixed value in the dairy industry, the wide use of yeast biomass in foods and nutritional supplements is well-known. This has forced the creation and optimisation of industrial high-value biomass production processes, where innovative technologies are continuously being developed. Indeed, the efficient production of high-value biomass with high cell viability and minimal contamination remains a major challenge up to date.

This research project aims to develop state-of-the-art cultivation strategies to tackle these challenges. Firstly, this involves high cell-density cultivation, where high amounts of biomass are produced by using advanced feeding strategies and close monitoring and control of process parameters such as temperature, pH, oxygen supply and nutrient availability. Secondly, the accumulation of stress metabolites will be induced to prepare the cells for drying later in the process. For this, stress conditions will be imposed in the final stage of fermentation, such as nutrient starvation, osmotic shock or thermal shock. Thirdly, advanced downstream processing (DSP) techniques such as centrifugation, cross-flow filtration and decantation will be evaluated to prepare high-value biomass products while maintaining high quality and cell viability. Finally, the developed global production process will be taken to the next level, where scale-up to 150 L pilot scale will take place alongside experienced engineers. [PDB, EU]

 

TOPIC 5 - Process development for the conversion of waste CO2 into value-added chemicals (available as of August 2022)

This research topic is framed within the BIOCONCO2 project, aiming to create value from waste CO2 and therefore assisting in the world’s most imminent challenge: global warming. You will be part of the team involved in gasfermentation, a technology which makes use of micro-organisms to convert CO2 into value-added chemicals. The fixation of CO2 requires an energy source, most often in the form of hydrogen gas, which possibly results in the formation of explosive gas mixtures. Therefore, BBEPP invested in state-of-the-art gasfermentation vessels, each with a total volume of 1L, which enables the feeding of combinations of CO2, H2 and O2.

The research will enclose a screening of several CO2-converting microbial strains on the 100 mL scale. After selection of the best performing strain(s), experiments will be conducted in 1L gasfermenters. In this way, process conditions like pH, medium composition, partial gas pressures and gas flow rates will be optimized in order to improve cell growth, productivity, gas uptake rate etc. Some fermentations will also be scaled-up to mid-pilot scale, in a custom-built 10L gasfermenter.

The library of strains consists of two types of micro-organisms, utilizing different pathways for CO2 incorporation: the acetogenic and the so-called knallgas bacteria. Both require a different approach for cultivation and more importantly have a distinct product portfolio, ranging from e.g. acetic acid and ethanol for the acetogens, to single-cell protein (SCP) and bioplastics (PHB) for the knallgas strains.

You will be a full member of BBEPP’s gasfermentation team, who will be guiding you closely through your internship and give you a first impression and broader look into the (biotech) industry. [KQ, EV]

 

TOPIC 7 - Developing a yeast cultivation and propagation strategy for the production of biofuels from MSW (Interns already selected- not available anymore]

The development of a fermentative production process of isobutanol from paper and cardboard waste comprises three main steps: 1. The saccharification of cardboard to glucose and xylose using a special enzyme cocktail; 2. The propagation of an engineered S. cerevisiae strain up to a very high cell density culture; 3. The fermentation of the saccharified cardboard to isobutanol using the freshly propagated yeast culture. In situ product recovery (ISPR) of isobutanol during the fermentation will be required to keep the isobutanol below its toxicity concentration.

This internship will mainly focus on the development of a yeast propagation on 7L bioreactor scale, aiming to improve yields and to minimize the overall cost prize. However, the saccharification will also be further improved at labscale and different ISPR methods will be further explored. [CVC]

 TOPIC 10 - Meat the future, today!

Global food consumption keeps rising and to keep up with the demands of an est. 10 billion people by 2050, especially the conventional meat industry is far from sustainable. Also, a rising consumer concern for animal welfare and the burning issue of climate change, we must urgently revolutionize the foundations of this industry.

Many meat processing companies envision cultured meat as promising alternative to (partly) replace traditional animal-derived raw materials. With the arrival of cutting edge cultured meat technologies, Flanders has everything what it takes to be a pioneer in this field – a leading role in biotechnology on a scientific level, a strong food industry, and a history of expertise in fermentation (cell growth) technologies, both in research and industry.

 Animal cell cultures have been used for over a century in research and medical settings providing the basic principles of cell culturing. However, the culturing of these cells for food production comes with its own set of challenges, as this for one requires a low media cost and high cell densities to become economically relevant. During this internship, you will be involved in tackling the challenging task of developing an industrially scalable cell proliferation and differentiation process for an embryonic cell line. This will be achieved by medium engineering, optimizing the feeding strategy, agitation, temperature etc. An optimized process will subsequently be scaled-up to enable the development of a downstream processing method that meets the demands for application in food products. [MVB]

TOPIC 11 - In situ product recovery of fermentatively produced 2,3-butanediol (available as of August 2022)

As sustainability becomes increasingly important in the industry, processes more often will become bio based. A biobased process goes hand in hand with the production of biogenic CO2 coming from processes such as fermentation or biomass combustion. It is therefore important that technologies are developed to recycle and convert this CO2 into value-added chemicals, which is naturally occurs in many microorganisms. Because of the low energy content in CO2, energy sources are required in the form of CO and/or H2. The mixture of these three gases results in what is known as syngas.

One such bio-based intermediate, which can be produced via syngas fermentation, is 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BDO), a promising bulk chemical. The recovery of the product after the fermentation step is a challenging part of the process, as traditional downstream processes such as filtration techniques do not suffice for recovery of the product. An alternative downstream process is in situ product recovery via reactive extraction with solvents. This thesis will focus on optimizing the process by screening a variety of solvents on their ability to extract the product and their biocompatibility towards the production organism. Subsequently, the fermentation parameters will be optimized to obtain maximal process efficiency. For the final recovery of the product, a last re-extraction step will be developed.

The internship is framed within the EU-project CO2SMOS, which focusses on the transformation of biogenic CO2 into biobased chemicals. Experimental work will be performed with advanced equipment present at Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, while being supported by experienced engineers. (KQ) (EVH)

TOPIC 12 - Capturing biogenic CO2 into biobased intermediates through gas fermentation (available as of August 2022)

Due to its adverse effects on our climate, the accumulation of CO2 in our atmosphere is and remains a serious challenge. Yet, where CO2 was previously considered a burden, it is now seen as a possible green resource for the synthesis of chemical intermediates and added-value compounds. This concept is known as carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and can help to reduce CO2 emissions across industries. Industrial CO2 can be abiogenic, when it comes from fossil carbon, or biogenic, in case it originates from a natural resource. As CO2 has a low energy content, energy sources are required, which come in the form of CO and/or H2. The resulting gas mixture of CO2, CO, and H2 is called syngas.

 

This internship will focus on producing acetic acid via gas fermentation on syngas produced from biogenic CO2. The optimal process setup will be evaluated in both batch and continuous fermentation mode on scales ranging from up to 10 L. The process will be further intensified by means of cell recycle and the use of elevated pressures, aiming to improve the acetic acid productivity. The resulting acetic acid stream will be processed downstream and used for further conversion into high-value compounds in a second fermentation step.

The internship is framed within the EU-funded project CO2SMOS, which focuses on the transformation of biogenic CO2 into biobased chemicals in a truly renewable manner. With the support of experienced engineers, you will get the opportunity to perform work with state-of-the-art gas fermentation equipment, with the final aim of developing an industrially relevant gas fermentation process. (KQ) (EVH)

Which student profile do we require?

Requirements are:

  • You are studying for a degree in bio-engineering or related (bioprocessing, chemistry, biotechnology, cell- and gene technology)

  • some experience with bacterial, yeast or fungal hosts is an asset

  • some relevant experience with biocatalytic processes for the production of chemicals, food ingredients or cosmetics is an asset

  • The duration of your internship is at least 6 months.

What do we offer?

We offer a dynamic, international and young working environment and a full learning experience. You are based at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, situated in the port of Ghent in Belgium.

The internship runs for a minimum of 6 months full-time to preferably a whole academy year full-time. 

More information: https://jobs.bbeu.org/en/internship

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