Characterisation and optimization of pectinase-enhanced sugar release from UK sugar beet

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Biochemical Engineering


The proposed project builds on the existing UCL-AB Sugar relationship and expertise. The overall aim of the project is to gain a better mechanistic understanding of the pectinase-enhanced diffusion process in order to establish optimum and robust operating conditions at manufacturing scale. Specific objectives are as follows: - To construct a scale-down model of a counter-current, screw diffuser in which pectinase-enhanced sucrose extractions can be studied under controlled conditions. - To investigate the mechanism of sucrose release based on the activity of commercial pectinases and diffuser operating conditions. - To identify, clone and evaluate novel thermostable pectinases and demonstrate their bioprocess advantages in the scale-down diffuser. The project is well aligned to EPSRC priority areas in Manufacturing and specifically in the area of Future Manufacturing operations e.g. the impact of Synthetic Biology on biomanufacturing processes. The project is also aligned to the bioprocess and scale-up training within the UCL CDT in Bioprocess Engineering Leadership.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512400/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2022
1932996 Studentship EP/R512400/1 25/09/2017 24/01/2022 Thomas Kwun Cheung
Title Counter-current diffusion model based on a battery diffusion system 
Description We have designed and constructed a benchtop counter-current diffusion model that mimics the large-scale diffusion systems operated in a typical sugar refinery based on the battery extraction system. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - in vitro 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This model allows us to investigate the counter-current extraction of sucrose on the lab-scale. Parameters such as draft ratio can be varied which would be difficult to do on the industrial scale. 
Description British Sugar Plc 
Organisation Associated British Foods PLC
Department British Sugar
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Primary contributions include data and regular updates on the current experiments
Collaborator Contribution British Sugar provide the sugar beets and some enzymes required for this project. They also provide technical and scientific support and feedback.
Impact The collaboration is multidiscplinary, requiring understanding of engineering and biology.
Start Year 2017