The Technical University of Denmark, DTU

Description of the institution

dtuThe Technical University of Denmark, DTU,, is one of the oldest Universities in Denmark, first inaugurated in 1829 as “College of Advanced Technology”, subsequently changing its name to Danish Technical College in 1933 and finally becoming the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in 1994. Just after the turn of the last century, DTU achieved an international level of excellence and nowadays is ranked 20 and 74 in Europe and worldwide, respectively (The World University Rankings in Engineering and Technology). The Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering,, has a solid basis in technological core subjects and engineering scientific disciplines. The department’s research takes place in seven research centers which expand with specialized research activities. Research and pilot activities in the frame of GRAIL take place in BIOENG and PILOT centers.

BIOENG conducts research that provides new knowledge, new enzymes, and new process strategies for sustainable resource utilization and industrial bioconversion processes and new products supporting a sustainable development. The goal of BioEng is to provide new biocatalytic conversion concepts for sustainable biorefining routes and bioproducts design based on generic research and ingenious chemical engineering. BioEng has well-functioning fully equipped laboratories with modern equipment suitable for routine and more specialized analyses and techniques in fermentation technology. PILOT focuses on equipment and process design and process scaling-up in the broad area of chemical and biochemical engineering. Special emphasis is given on the designing, construction, starting-up and operation of pilot plant facilities for research and teaching purposes. Areas of expertise include filtration, centrifugation, membrane separations, extractions, enzyme catalysis, fermentation, organic synthesis and process control. PILOT also accommodates a fully equipped workshop where lab- and pilot reactors are being constructed.

Role in the project

The main tasks of DTU in GRAIL focus on production of a) ethanol and hydrogen under microaerophilic conditions, b) ethanol and hydrogen in pilot-scale, c) butyric acid and d) PHA from crude glycerol streams and also methane production from the effluents of the abovementioned processes. Research will focus on using mixed microbial cultures and will consist of experimental and theoretical (statistical optimization and kinetic modelling) parts. The key-personnel involved in GRAIL consist of highly skilled scientists with complementary expertise on microbiological, engineering and modelling aspects of bioprocessing and fermentation technology.

Key personnel

Dr. Hariklia Gavala is Associate Professor in BIOENG center. She holds a PhD in Biochemical Engineering and Environmental Technology (1998) and she has twenty (20) years research experience in fermentation technology. She has extended expertise in managing research in the frame of national and EC-funded projects. She has 43 publications in international, peer-reviewed journals, more than 60 conference presentations, has co-authored 4 chapters in books and her scientific work has received more than 1490 citations. Her expertise lies within the following fields:

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Fermentation processes with pure bacterial strains and mixed microbial consortia
  • Biofuels, chemicals and materials production from biomass resources and waste
  • Pre-treatment methods (physicochemical and biological) for biomass exploitation
  • Application of hydrolytic enzymes prior to microbial processing
  • Biological degradation of xenobiotic compounds
  • Kinetics of microbial processes
  • Development of mathematical models and mathematical simulation of biological processes
  • Coupling biological production with in-situ separation of organic acids
  • Coupling biological production processes with biomimetic membranes

Dr. Ioannis Skiadas is Associate Professor in PILOT center. He is a chemical engineer with a PhD in biochemical engineering and environmental technology. He has extended expertise in the areas of anaerobic digestion of industrial wastes and wastewater, reactor fermentations, biorefineries, biofuels production from biomass resources and waste, pre-treatment and analysis of biomass materials and mathematical simulation of bioprocesses. He has 35 publications in peer-reviewed international journals, co-authored 3 book chapters and more than 50 conference presentations.

Dr. Cristiano Varrone is post-doctoral researcher in BIOENG center. He has about 10 years research experience in fermentation technologies, characterization of organic matter and biofuels production, with a particular focus on glycerol bioconversion, enrichment of microbial mixed cultures and Statistical Optimization for biofuels production. He is the inventor of a patent about the Biological conversion of crude glycerol into hydrogen and ethanol and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of GRAIL. He is also the Scientific Coordinator of the Italy-China Bilateral Agreement 2013-2015 for the project: Optimized bioconversion of crude glycerol into hydrogen and ethanol using Geo-Chip and coupling with MEC. Previously, research fellow at ENEA’s lab for Biomass and Bioenergy and the department of Chemical Engineering of Sapienza University of Rome, he was also responsible for the FP7-funded EuropAid project Linking hydrogen and biodiesel production (2009-2011), under financial support of the Science and Technology Fellowship Programme China.




  • Review of technical glycerol potential from biodiesel production and availability for improved cascading in Europe

    May 2, 2017

    The article entitled: “Review of technical glycerol potential from biodiesel production and availability for improved cascading in Europe” has been published and is available online. Authors: André Brosowski (DBFZ), Stephanie Hauschild (DBFZ), Karin Naumann (DBFZ), Jens Hösel (DBFZ), Daniela Thrän (Helmholtz Centre for environmental research), Type of publication: Article – Research Paper Date: April 2017 Publication: […]


  • 42M Progress Meeting – April 26 to 28, 2017 – Leipzig (Germany)

    April 11, 2017

    All the project partners will be hosted by DBFZ in Leipzig (Germany) from April 26 to 28, 2017. This is a good opportuny to discuss about the project advancement after the last Consortium Meeting which took place from October 12 to 14, 2016 in Hurtigruten, Bergen – Trondheim, Norway. Agenda available here: GRAIL_42M_Agenda     […]


  • GRAIL e-NEWSLETTER #5 – February 2017

    February 22, 2017

    PROJECT SUMMARY GRAIL : GLYCEROL BIOREFINERY APPROACH FOR THE PRODUCTION OF HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS OF INDUSTRIAL VALUE GRAIL is a 48-months collaborative project funded by the European Commission, under the FP7 Programme for Knowledge Based Bio-Economy. The topic of GRAIL project is “Preventing and valorizing bio-waste in biorefineries optimal and cost-effective industrial biocatalysts”. What’s inside […]


  • D2-2 – Operating parameters for batch experiments

    January 5, 2017

    Main Objectives To provide information about operational parameters at batch configurations such as, the effect of inoculum, addition of nutrients, pH control and substrate concentration to improve hydrogen and ethanol production  Main Outcomes According to the results, the selected inoculum was sludge from an aerobic wastewater treatment plant and an aerobic pretreatment. Also, it was […]