What we do & How

We develop, validate, scale-up and transfer new green and sustainable processes for the extraction of bioactive compounds and fractionation of biochemical building blocks to achieve better and environmentally friendly products produced and tested at our premises.

We combine "Applied Industrial Research" with "Academia outstanding People and Facilities".

Key areas of expertise

Lines of investigation carried out

  • Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

  • Developmente of Green Processes for sustainable production

  • Lignin fractionation and depolimerization

  • Biochemical building blocks production

  • Terpenes, limonene, tannins as building blocks for cyclic carbonates

  • Produsction of new catalysts in form of nanoparticles for higher efficiency

  • BIOREFINERY AND RESOURCE RECOVERY

  • Agro-industrial residues valorization

  • Extraction of bioactive ingredients from natural matrices and microalgae

  • Optimization of enzymatic preparations

  • Enzyme-assisted extraction

  • Microwave-assisted extraction

  • Ultrasonic assisted techniques

  • Suopercritical CO2 extraction

  • Subcritical H2O extraction

  • Chromatograohy

  • NaDES – Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents

  • Innovative solvents

  • Green production of bio nanoparticles for environmental and biomedical use

• Degradation of recalcitrant compounds

• Advanced Oxidation Processes

• Materials multiscale modeling

• Microplastics and emergent pollutant treatment

• Nanocellulose to reinforce biopolymers

  • Dissemination and Exploitation

  • Organisation of communication plans for bio-based results exploitation

  • LCA

  • Social, Economical and Environmental analysis

  • Mathematical Modelling and Simulation

  • Multidisciplinary Design Optimization

  • The research activities have been developed in several areas of chemical and biochemical engineering, including heterogeneous catalysis, chemical thermodynamics, enzyme kinetics, nanomaterials and microencapsulated systems. At present, the main research topics are the development of innovative and environmentally friendly technologies for the recovery of value-added products from agroindustrial wastes and microalgae, the degradation of recalcitrant organic compounds by advanced oxidation processes and the green synthesis of metal nanoparticles.

  • Lignin fractionation is approached through a very cost effective and efficient enzymatic approach

  • Regarding the recovery of value-added compounds from plant materials and microalgae, new chemical and enzyme-assisted extraction procedures are investigated. The use of industrial wastewaters and other waste residues for the growth of microalgae is another field of active research. Special attention is given to the optimization of process conditions using advanced statistical methods for the design of experiments and the development of mathematical models.

  • Researches are also being conducted for the development of new functional products for the cosmetic, nutraceutical and food sectors with enhanced antioxidant and antibacterial properties. In this latter area of research, the production of natural honey-based products with anti-quorum sensing properties and broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity is investigated.

  • Most of the above research activities are carried out through international collaborations. The most important research partners are the Université de La Lorraine (Nancy office), the ILAB (Italian - LatinAmerican Biochemical Group) research group, of which Prof. Zuorro is the Coordinator, and in which researchers from the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Bucaramanga, Colombia), the Universidad Francisco de Paula Santander (Cúcuta, Colombia), the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (Chile), the Universidad de Cartagena, the Universidad de Pamplona and the Universidad Central "Marta Abreu" de Las Villas (Cuba) participate.

  • Researches are usually industrially driven and run for Companies of market sectors ranging from Food to Feed, from Cosmetic to Nutraceutic and Cosmeceutic, from Special Green Chemicals to Addives for Coating Indtries, from Bioplatics to Bioplymers, from Babies to Elderly formulation, from Agricoltural to Wood, from Biogas to Petrochemistry.

  • Within Biotechnology area, main contributions are: Multidisciplinary Design Optimisation (MDO), process modelling and simulation, tools for effective decision making and public engagement through the integration of knowledge and decision support frameworks (algorithms)

Answers to societal challenges

Energy generation and storage, the development of new materials, or the strive for more sustainability in process and product design - none of these challenges can be resolved without the active participation of chemical processing and biotechnology. From the optimization and integration of unit operations that rely on progress in separation technology, a deep understanding of heat and mass transfer, the handling of multiphase systems or new developments in membrane engineering, to plant design, process system engineering and chemical reaction engineering, chemical and process engineering are working to provide the technology and material platforms our industrial landscape is founded on.

Increasing integration of chemical engineering and biotechnology

Driven not least by the shift towards renewable resources, chemical and biotechnological process steps are increasingly going hand in hand.
Integrated process design covers everything from the development of new production systems by synthetic biology to strain optimization, reactor design, process intensification and the downstream processing of bioproducts.

This group brings chemical engineers and biotechnologists together to discuss how to combine the best of both worlds in efficient and sustainable processes.