Prof. Rene Wijffels obtained his BSc in Food Engineering, MSc at Environmental Technology and Ph.D at Bioprocess Engineering. In 2005 he was appointed as professor in marine biotechnology and since 2007, he is the chair holder at Bioprocess Engineering at Wageningen University.
In the past years, a large range of EU projects were started under his supervision moreover he has a worldwide scientific and industrial network in the field of microalgae.
His research area in bioprocess engineering encompasses everything between substrate (e.g. light, CO2, sugar, lignocellulose) and product (food, pharmaceuticals, fuels, platform chemicals). That includes pretreatment of substrates, bioconversion and downstream processing, all from lab to pilot scale. Drivers are high quality products and high efficiency conversions with high volumetric productivity. Within the chair group Bioprocess Engineering, there are four research themes: microbial biotechnology, algal biotechnology, pharmaceutical biotechnology and biorefinery.
Prof. Wijffels has 249 publications in international refereed scientific journals according to WoS and a H-index of 45.
Prof. Rene Wijffels, representing Wageningen University, will be work package leader of WP3 with the responsibility to develop a bioprocess for production and in situ extraction from genetically modified Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Phaeodactylum tricornutum.
First of all, the proof of principle to produce and extract the terpenoids will be shown after which productivity and extraction rates will be maximized. Ideally microalgae can be used as a catalyst which produces terpenoids at high rate and almost do not grow. Conditions at which this takes place will be tested. This will be integrated with in situ extraction. Different solvents will be tested in their extraction capacity and toxicity for the microalgae. The final result is a process in which productivity and rate of extraction are maximized under simulated outdoor conditions.
The process developed will be tested at pilot scale at the pilot facility AlgaePARC. For that a reactor and extraction unit will be constructed and tested.
In order to understand the effect of process conditions on the physiology of the organisms and the production rate of the terpenoids, detailed metabolic and transcriptomic analysis will be performed.