Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

AVT - Soft Matter Process Engineering | RWTH Aachen


Prof. Dr. Ronald Gebhardt

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Research topics and profile (related to bioeconomy)

The research focus of the SMP chair within AVT is on the development of new functional materials that are produced from biomaterials such as proteins and polysaccharides in a way that preserves their structure and, if possible, their functional properties. To produce the functional materials, we modify the solubility properties or the intermolecular interactions of the biopolymers or use various methods for concentration such as membrane separation processes and drying. A number of high-resolution spectroscopic and imaging techniques are used to monitor the structure formation processes. In detail, we thus investigate structure-process relationships in 1. fibre formation from micellar casein; 2. biomass transformation; 3. the production and functionalisation of casein microparticles as well as 4. the production of gels and particles based on renewable raw materials.

Contributions to BioSC

The SMP chair develops new functional products and processes based on renewable raw materials. In addition, high-resolution methods are used to investigate nano- and microstructural changes during production.

Contribution to Research Area ‘Chemical engineering of renewable resources’:
On the basis of the naturally occurring milk protein casein, a process for fiber production was developed which, in contrast to previous processes, does not require any chemical additives. The aim is to use the fiber in future for the production of fibrous food products or to develop a biodegradable fiber for applications in the textile sector using residual material flows. Furthermore, protein-based microparticles were developed that exhibit an interesting pH-dependent swelling behavior. The aim is to use the microparticles as carriers for bioactive substances in the future.

Contribution to Cross-cutting topic ‘Structural Biology’: A number of studies were carried out in the field of nanostructure analysis, especially on the solution, surface and crystalline structure of biopolymers using synchrotron radiation sources as well as Raman and static and dynamic light scattering.