Biological Production Systems
Two main projects within the research area Biological Production Systems are ProPhos and MaxSynBio.
The Project “ProPhos” was initiated in 2011 aiming at the optimal model-based design of biochemicals production processes using green microalgae. The methodological direction is to extend and apply our Elementary Process Functions Methodology (EPF) into the biosystems engineering field. In the project “ProPhos” the genome-scale metabolic networks were implemented in the dynamic optimization of semibatch-photobioreactors (collaboration with Prof. Barton/MIT and Dr. Klamt/ARB), and integrated production systems combining several up- and downstream units (with Fraunhofer CBP, Leuna) were systematically optimized. On the long term, we are aiming to develop a toolbox for process synthesis of algae-based biorefineries applicable for several algal species with high physiological diversity. Here, we will follow further the whole cell approach, where attention is focused not only to maximize the production of few valuable lipophilic metabolizes but to utilize optimally all fractions available in wild type algae cells.
The Project “MaxSynBio” started in 2014. It is aiming at the bottom-up design of artificial 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 artificial cells, usable e.g. as microbioreactors for chemicals production or energy conversion.
The Project “EnzElectro” will be continued in the new, independent research group Electrochemical Energy Conversion (EEC) headed by Dr.-Ing. T. Vidakovic-Koch since 2018. The project focuses on novel processes for the highly selective biotransformations of renewable substrates.