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Master-Thesis: HIPSTERS – High value Proteins via Sustainable Technologies from Residual Streams Experimental lab tests

AEE - Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC) is a non-university research institution and one of the leading institutes in the field of applied research with a thematic focus on buildings, industrial systems, technology development and cities and networks. AEE INTEC employs around 70 people from more than 10 different nations in Gleisdorf.

AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC) was founded in 1988 as an inde-pendent research association and is now one of the leading institutes for applied research in the fields of solar thermal energy, low-energy and zero energy buildings as well as in energy efficiency in industry. Besides these energy related topics also sustainable water manage-ment is a focus area, whereas process intensification technologies such as the membrane distillation and the oscillatory flow bioreactor are applied.


With the increasing population and the forecast of 9 billion people in 2050, the need for re-sources (for food and technical applications) and concepts for the utilization of valuable raw materials from biogenic residue streams is also increasing. These contain high-value com-ponents, such as amino acids, proteins, lipids, acids and sugars. The sustainable valorization of plant-based protein fractions is of particular importance to increase the competitiveness of biogenic value chains in Europe.
The globally increasing demand for plant protein and amino acids is evident due to their di-verse potential applications. On the one hand, as a food additive in "super foods", but also in animal feed products with targeted amino acid requirements, especially for monogastric an-imals (poultry, pigs). On the other hand, proteins are used in technical applications in paints, lubricants, adhesives and polymers.  
However, it is a great challenge to isolate proteins from residual material streams of the food industry in an ecologically and economically reasonable way and to make them acces-sible as valuable materials. There is a lack of scientific studies on which extraction agents can be used to extract which proteins in the best possible way, on the exact definition of the achievable protein purity, amino acid patterns and yields, as well as on simple technological approaches to extract proteins directly from the residual materials (mostly suspensions) without a large number of process steps.


This diploma thesis will be embedded into the framework of the national project HIPSTERS on developing of an energy- and resource-efficient key technology for the extraction of iso-lated proteins and amino acids with high yields from biogenic residues of the food industry, in particular brewer's grains as an example substrate. An oscillating flow reactor (OFR) is used as a key enabling technology (new extraction technology) in order to carry out the chemical and enzymatic extraction routes in the best possible way, i.e. with direct use of the biomass and continuous process control.
In this master thesis lab studies in the fully equipped OFR laboratory at AEE INTEC in Gleis-dorf shall be conducted with brewers spent grain as substrate for protein valorization with beforehand evaluated best suited extraction agent.

This thesis is the second thesis within this project, so it will build upon the initial results.
If possible both students will have an overlapping time for sharing the outcome and introduc-tion to the lab plant.
Stable and reproducible operating conditions at defined KPI´s will be set and results record-ed. Experimental design and the execution of experiments according to plan with flexible ad-justment for continuous optimization will be the main part of the thesis.
The Design of Experiments (DoE) will be performed in detail for the 6 months experimental period according to the selected extraction media (enzymes, ionic liquids..). This includes experiments with (if necessary) pretreatment/crushing (milling/screening) of spent grains and without pretreatment, at different temperatures (°C) , experimental durations (h), flow rates (l/h), amplitudes (mm), frequencies (Hz), concentration ratios (g spent grains/extractant) of spent grains substrate and extractant. In addition, the sampling strate-gy and extractant regeneration/recycling play an important role, and will be worked out ac-cordingly. All experiments will be performed at least twice under the same conditions. In or-der to be able to perform an appropriate evaluation of the results, only one parameter is changed at a time and the effects on product quality/quantity are evaluated. The modular design of the OFR system allows selected tests to be carried out at different scales in order to obtain information about the scale-up behavior of the reactor. Batch experiments as well as continuous experiments are performed. During the tests, heat transfer and energy de-mand (via temperature measurements; flow measurements; pump energy measurements), as well as rheological parameters (residence time measurement, velocity ratio, viscosity measurement) are continuously recorded.

  • Set of lab tests at OFR
  • Reprocessing of experimental data and availabl
  • Literature research on recently published data
  • Elaboration of optimization concepts
  • Integration into biorefinery contex
  • Elaboration of the thesis

We request...

Thesis written in English or German
Solution-oriented, creative, independent and reliable operation-mode
Interest in sustainable technologies, biorefineries, Oscillatory Flow Reactors
Desirable: knowledge on literature research, preparation of well-structed word document, experience in lab

We offer...

  • Paid thesis, integration into ongoing project
  • Start: March – August 2022
  • Duration: 6 month
  • Location: AEE INTEC Gleisdorf


DI Judith Buchmaier
Bereich: Industrielle Prozesse und Energiesysteme
AEE - Institut für Nachhaltige Technologien
A-8200 Gleisdorf, Feldgasse 19
Tel.: +43 (0)3112 5886-452, Fax: DW 18
E-Mail: j.buchmaier@aee.at

Dr. Bettina Muster-Slawitsch
Bereich: Industrielle Prozesse und Energiesysteme
AEE - Institut für Nachhaltige Technologien
A-8200 Gleisdorf, Feldgasse 19
Tel.: +43 (0)3112 5886-471, Fax: DW 18
E-Mail: b.muster@aee.at