Research Department Life Science Engineering

Director
Prof. Dr. Klaus Richter

Lehrstuhl für Holzwissenschaft
Winzererstrasse 45
80797 München

Phone +49.89.2180.6421
Fax +49.89.2180.6424
E-Mail richter[at]hfm.tum.de

The department´s unifying mission is trying to understand, control and reduce the complexity of life science related biogenic systems such that these systems can be more predictably and less empirically treated in an application oriented (bio-)processing and engineering manner. The biogenic nature of the research subjects require the interdisciplinary and consequent use of methods related to chemistry, biology, physics and informatics in order to meet the mission target.

The diversity of biogenic product systems in the fields of food and pharmaceutical as well as physical and chemical engineering of renewable materials offers the chance and the necessity to cross-wise apply technologies developed in the various areas of life sciences. Especially in the aspect of process/molecular structure relationships much can be learned and transferred between these disciplines. Processing unit operations between, e.g., pharmaceutical and food engineering, have much in common so that a meaningful transfer of knowledge between the various industrial sectors can be aimed at. Moreover, many of the concepts can be adjusted also to the engineering of renewable biogenic systems.

The product systems in these disciplines are without exception highly complex by nature, since a variety of compositional factors introduces a wide array of possible interactions which are difficult to predict. In addition, many components are highly sensitive against processing stress due to their biogenic origin and fragile molecular structure. Therefore, in all areas of life sciences, it is of paramount importance to combine the disciplines of process engineering with a deep knowledge about the particularities of the various product systems in terms of natural sciences aspects at the different length scales, from nano- to macro- or production scale. This characteristic combination of engineering and natural sciences differentiates the area of life science engineering from the classical process engineering as a stand-alone discipline.

It is the challenge and the focus to shift the perspective from a more descriptive, qualitative view to a more mechanistic understanding regarding processing-structure correlation and structure-functionality relationships in a quantitative manner. This approach also includes the idea of bio-inspired material development, where natural templates are applied to match the characteristics of cellular or tissue structures in the manufacture of technical materials. It is the nature of life science engineering research to combine the respective challenges and to overcome the current limitations in terms of managing complexity and predictable outcome when dealing with natural resources. The three pillars of the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, ‘food’, ‘health’, and ‘renewable resources’ and their related sub-items characterize the activities of this research department: 

Food and Biopharmaceutical Systems

  • Sustainable food production and process engineering
  • Process Analytical Technology
  • Food and process safety and quality
  • Systems reliability and predictability
  • Preservation and packaging technologies
  • Multifunctional products/technologies
  • Process/structure functional relationships in complex systems/managing complexity
  • Engineering for efficiency, sustainability and flexibility

Health

  • Fractionation technologies for health and therapeutically relevant ingredients
  • Prevention of destruction of health related components by processing stress
  • Safe use of nanotechnology
  • Processing of ingredients for healthy food

Renewable resources

  • Sustainable (bio-)material science / Novel bio-materials
  • Resource efficiency /Zero waste technologies
  • Efficient and targeted conversion of complex biogenic raw materials
  • Resource change in chemicals production/synthetic and industrial biotechnology for bio-economy
  • Renewable energy/energy efficiency

Professors