970310 Practical course in environmental biotechnology

Practical course
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Neureiter, Markus , Mautner, Andreas , Fritz, Ines
Offered in
Sommersemester 2024
Languages of instruction


The aim of the Practical Course in Environmental Biotechnology is to teach methods and processes in environmental biotechnology. Within a period of 1-3 weeks a specific area in the field of environmental biotechnology will be covered. Usually practice-oriented experiments on laboratory or pilot scale will be conducted.

The selected topics can be attributed to the following subjects:
- Contaminated Land Management
- Anaerobic Digestion
- Biomaterial- and Enzyme Technology
- Renewable Ressources for Fuels, Chemicals and Polymers
- Environmental Microbiology
- Ecotoxicology and Biotests
- Water- and Wastewater Treatment

Work programme for 2020:

Students engage in practical work for the biotechnological production of polyhydroxybutyrate (P3HB), a biobased and biodegradable plastic. They experience basic principles of bioprocess technology, including tasks for up- and downstream processing and simple process analytics. The students are divided into two groups and work on one of two practical examples:

Example 1: Photoautotrophic production of PHB with cyanobacteria
- Setup, preparation and media preparation for a photobioreactor (airlift-external loop) at laboratory scale
- Inoculum preparation, inoculation, process control, operation of a batch fermentation process, sampling
- Concentration of an intracellular product (centrifugation)
- Analysis and evaluation of the results

Example 2: Heterotrophic production of PHB with a bacterial strain
- Setup, preparation and media preparation, sterilization of a bioreactor
- Inoculum preparation, inoculation, process control, operation of a fed-batch fermentation process, sampling
- Concentration of an intracellular product via microfiltration
- Analysis and evaluation of the results

Example 3: In-vitro enzymatic synthesis of bio-based polyesters
- Setup of the reactions and preparation of the reactor
- Operation of a batch chemical reactor and work up of the reactions
- Analysis of the reaction products via several techniques
- Analysis and evaluation of the results

The practical work and the results will be elaborated and assessed within the group. There will be a presentation day, where results and experiences of each are presented and discussed with all participants.

Previous knowledge expected

- Practical experience and required skills for working in chemical and microbiological laboratories
- Awareness about hazards & risks and safety requirements in a lab

Students with insufficient lab skills may be excluded from the course!

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

The students are familiar with the practical work required for the operation of a biotechnological production process for biobased and biodegradable plastics and have conducted at least partially some of these operations in person.

The students are able to relate the theoretical knowledge from lectures with practical experiences and may also have experienced that practical processes can deviate from theoretically expected behavior.

The students have the ability to elaborate their own results and present them to a larger audience. They have sufficient insight on the topic to spontaneously engage in a discussion and to answer detailed questions related to their practical work and results.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.