Biological Production Systems
Within the research area Biological Production Systems in 2011 we have started the new Project “ProPhos” which is aiming at the optimal model-based design of biochemicals production processes using green microalgae. The methodological direction is to transfer and extend our Elementary Process Functions Methodology (EPF) to the biosystems engineering field. Major challenges in this project are (1) the incorporation of genome-scale metabolic networks into the dynamic optimization of semibatch-photobioreactors (with Prof. Barton/MIT and Dr. Klamt/ARB), and the (2) system-wide optimization of a fully functional integrated production system combining up- and downstream units (with Fraunhofer CBP, Leuna). On the long term we are aiming at the development of a toolbox for process synthesis of algae-based biorefineries. In this project we use natural algae cells as producing organisms.
The second Project “EnzElectro” is focused on immobilized redox enzymes used for the highly selective partial oxidation of renewable substrates. The cofactors of the enzymes can be reactivated via electron transfer from electrodes on which the enzymes are immobilized. Based on this mechanism, we currently investigate a novel electroenzymatic membraneless reactor able to convert the model substrate glucose into the valuable chemical gluconic acid at high selectivity.
The third Project “MaxSynBio” has been started in the middle of 2014. It is aiming at the bottom-up design of artifical cells from functional biomimetic modules. This visionary project is part of the new Max Planck Research Network “Synthetic Biology”. Within the network, the PSE group is responsible for the realization of modules for (1) regeneration of the energy molecule ATP, (2) regeneration of the cofactor NAD, (3) import and metabolic conversion of nutrients via proteins reconstituted in artificial cells, and (4) the computer-aided synthesis of artificial cells from functional modules. The final goal is to combine these modules with other modules from our partners to create minimal cells, usable e.g. as microbioreactors for chemicals production or energy conversion.