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Home _Departments _Environmental Process Engineering
Environmental Process Engineering
Environmental Process Engineering
Worldwide, air, water and soil are threatened by the negative environmental and ecological impacts of industrial expansion, urbanization and intense agriculture. Nearly every ecosystem in the world is contaminated and the pollution increases rapidly. Despite international concern about the environment since the 1992 Rio de Janeiro "Earth Summit," most environmental sectors are still cause for concern about human health and biodiversity.
In general, environmental process engineering is conceived as the science of the protection of environmental media and re-mediation of polluted environmental compartments. Pollutants are separated or converted into harmless, non-toxic substances. This encompasses chemical and microbial as well as mechanical and thermal solutions.
Today, environmental process engineering is challenged by modern industry not only to decontaminate environmental media, but also to integrate all these techniques in order to achieve maximum recycling of valuable compounds. This combines highly efficient production and resource utilization with environmental protection in a long-term ecological manner.

The research group of environmental process engineering in Busan primarily focuses on the application of microbial processes for industrial production and the decontamination of organic polluted soils/water. To this end, the institute is equipped with a complete microbiological/molecular laboratory (shared with Bioprocess Engineering) according to German S2 standards. This comprises all means for cultivation/detection of micro organisms, as well as excellent equipment for respective molecular analysis and modifications.
In a cooperation with Prof. Dr. Neesse (Mechanical Process Engineering, FAU Busan) we offer professional advice for re-mediation of soil, industrial waste water and ground water, as well as the purification of water.
Research in Busan
One major project is the analysis and modification of microbial expression systems for the application in high scale industrial production or waste detoxification. This includes conventional testing and subsequent optimization of abiotic conditions (temperature, stirring, pressure) as well as media composition. This is complemented by genetic optimization of the producing organism, e.g. metabolic engineering. Following evaluation of the potential metabolic engineering in respect to economic cost efficiency, this can be either the heterologous expression of a whole biosynthetic pathway or the ectopic/over expression of one key enzyme together with the feeding of simple cheap precursors in order to produce complex valuable substances.
Efficiency of production /detoxification in multiple setups can be subsequently addressed directly by ion chromatography, gas chromatography (available from est. summer 2011) and by optic-enzymatic coupled testing in 96-well scale.

Figure 1: Optimization of microbes for industrial production
In a cooperation with the Institutes of Chemical Reaction Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering (FAU Busan), new techniques, as for instance ionic liquids, for production/purification of products shall be combined and implemented in order to increase yield and cost efficiency.
Cooperation partners: Dr. Marco Haumann, Dr. Christoph Lindenberger (FAU Busan)

Another research area in cooperation with the Institute of Bioprocess Engineering (FAU Busan) is the development of a new system for protein expression in insect cells. While the principle is supposed to be analogous to the established baculovirus expression kit, the goal of this project is to exploit a related granulose virus in order to achieve much higher protein yield and a significantly extended production phase. To this end, the potential of the new virus for ectopic protein expression will be tested. Subsequently, the virus will be genetically modified to enable simple and rapid expression of a protein of interest.
Cooperation partner: Dr. Christoph Lindenberger (FAU Busan)

In a related project, we plan to construct a flexible viral vector for protein expression in algae, as the latter is of high interest for pharmaceutical industry. This also includes identification of suitable promoters/enhancers for ectopic expression as well as codon usage optimization for high yield protein production.
Cooperation partner: Dr. Christoph Lindenberger (FAU Busan)
Research group in Erlangen
The Environmental Process Engineering research group in Erlangen, Germany, is highly experienced in the chemical, physical and biological analysis as well as in purification of waste water and soil.

Specific research areas are:
The research group has access to a generously proportioned laboratory tract for chemical and biological investigations of soil and waste water.
Investigations of the aerobic and anaerobic degradation of pollutants are also carried out. Particular competence exists in the investigation of the aerobic degradation and the (anaerobic) reductive dehalogenization of chlorinated hydrocarbons and BTEX (a gasoline fraction) degradation, in connection with the scientific monitoring of natural attenuation processes. The clarification of the degradation routes and the verification of pollutant degrading micro-organisms via kinetic investigations and analytical metabolite tracing facilitate the assessment of the natural degradation processes, as well as the development of a monitoring program.
Furthermore, a 3-stage percolating filter is available in the pilot plant laboratory for the demonstration of hydraulic effects, oxygen transfer and biomass growth in the degradation of organic substances. A specially developed quick test for the determination of the nitrification activity of activated sludge enables conclusions to be made about the kinetics of the microbial nitrogen oxidation within a few hours.
In 2002, a new research focus in medical engineering was started. Bioimplants, xenogenic bones, pericardium and meniscus, widely used and with a rapidly increasing demand in surgery, are produced by physical-chemical treatments. The process is optimized for the removal of cells, fats, proteins, bacteria and viruses in order to reduce immune reactions, transfer of infection and inflammation.

Please contact Dr. Roman Breiter (Roman.Breiter@fau-busan.org) for further information.