PhD project

Recovery and circularity of proteins and flavor molecules

Leon A. Smook (PhD Candidate), Karin Schroën (promotor), Sissi de Beer (co-promotor)

Duration: 2021 - 2025

Funding: NWO: Target 1 and 5 of TTW Perspectief research programme ReCoVR: Recovery and Circularity of Valuable Resources

Proteins and flavor compounds are present in small amounts in many industrial process and waste streams and these molecules represent significant economic value. However, these target molecules are sometimes wasted despite their value because extracting them requires a lot of resources in the form of solvents, energy, and money. Therefore, we are developing new surface-based separation methods based on electrical switching to extract these molecules and get the most value out of them.

Key words
molecular separation, protein, flavor compound, electrical switch, circularity

Technological challenges
Surface based separations have the potential to be more energy efficient than bulk separations. The energy required for separation can be delivered locally using electricity at the place where the separation happens. However, this translation from electrical energy to molecular separation requires an electro-responsive electrode-functionalization that can switch its affinity towards the target molecule, which is especially challenging for uncharged molecules. Therefore, we develop new electrode coatings that can achieve this affinity switch. For this, we need to both identify physicochemical processes that can be used as a basis for separation and develop ways of implementing them on electrode surfaces.

Research goals