Volker C. Hass joined the Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences at the beginning of the 2012/2013 winter semester. His presence strengthens the university’s team on the bio- and process engineering bachelor’s degree programme. Every year, two thirds of the 100 or so first-semester students choose biotechnology as part of their main studies and around one third choose process engineering.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker C. Hass, an expert in bioprocess engineering and systems dynamics, previously held a post as professor at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences. He will continue his teaching activities at Bremen-based Jacobs University and the University College in London. Amongst other things, this enables him to offer supervision to doctoral students in his fields.
Prof. Hass plans to establish a pilot biorefinery on the Villingen-Schwenningen university campus in order to be able to offer bio- and process engineering students an interesting object of research over and above traditional course content. The pilot plant will enable students to test many of the process steps they will later carry out as actual bio- and process engineers. “We will also use the pilot plant to show that the sustainable, regional and seasonal material and energetic utilisation of surplus biomass is economically viable,” said Prof. Hass.
Many research projects in Germany have already led to the design of different types of biorefinery that specialise in a broad range of different biogenic starting materials. Prof. Hass’ biorefinery concept is not designed to focus specifically on one particular type of biomass such as sugar, grass or straw, for example, but envisages a biorefinery that can be used with many different substrates. The concept also envisages adapting the end products of the biorefinery to the requirements of different clients, which will depend on the needs of local industry.
Besides being active in the field of sustainable industrial bioprocess engineering, Prof. Hass will also continue part of the work he started at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences in Furtwangen. One of the projects he is involved in, ProTool II, is being funded under the BMBF’s Biocatalysis 2012 programme. It uses process simulation and automation with the aim of significantly reducing the development time of new biotechnological processes. “The reduction of time to market is a key competitive factor in the biocatalytical and pharmaceutical industry,” Prof. Hass said.The operator training systems for biotechnological processes developed by his group in cooperation with partners from industry and science are also fairly unique. Similar to flight training simulators used for pilot training, the operator training systems enable trainees to experience deceptively realistic working conditions. Biotechnology and process engineering students thus have the unique possibility to use the training simulators to play through the entire process of producing biotechnological products. It can be safely assumed that graduates of the Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences stand to benefit enormously from this option, as will their future employers in industry and research.