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Centre of Biological Engineering

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Campus de Gualtar
4710-057 Braga

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Brief presentation of the institution

The University aims at being a University Without Walls, completely turned towards the surrounding socioeconomic environment. The level of interaction with the external community, in all fields of knowledge and culture, is rather high. International activities are intense not only with the Portuguese-speaking countries but also with other countries from all continents. The European Universities Association considered the University a case study of good practices at the European level, as may be seen on the EUA report available at the WEB page of the University. The University considers itself to be a research university, engaged in the valorisation of the chain of knowledge - Research, Development and Innovation - as is evidenced by a series of indicators. The ratio between PhD students and PhD teaching staff is over 1; the fraction of postgraduate students in the total student population is over 20%; 80% of the teaching staff hold a PhD; the ratio between research projects and PhDs is over 0.5; around 150 PhD theses are awarded every year; the average yearly production of refereed papers published in international magazines is 2/full time equivalent/year; and 250 R&D contracts are signed every year with external companies. Amongst the 29 University Research Units reckoned by The Portuguese Science Foundation 19 were considered in 2009 to be Very Good or Excellent by International Evaluation Panels, placing the University on the top of the Portuguese Universities ranking.

Main Electroporation related topics

In the recent years, the group has produced a significant number of works related with the application of alternating moderate electric fields technology (MEF) for the innovative processing of food products, regarding enhancement of food quality attributes, optimization of process efficiency and reduction of spoilage agents by inactivation of target microorganisms due to electroporation effect. Currently, the group is working on the R&D of MEF technology and its electroporation effects for biotechnological purposes, particularly: as a novel tool for the electro-permeabilization and extraction of value-added compounds from microalgae and cyanobacteria cells; enhancement of mass transfer operations; and improvement of industrial fermentations productivity.

Main Electroporation related research techniques and equipment

-Ohmic reactors of 30 cm total length and an inner diameter of 2.3 cm, with two stainless steel electrodes isolated at each edge with Teflon caps; -Function generator (Agilent 33220A, frequency range of 1Hz - 25 MHz and voltage range of 1 to 10V), coupled to a amplifier system (Peavey CS 3000 0.3 V to 170 V); -Fiber-optic spectrophotometers UV/VIS/NIR with UV LED Light Source at 290nm; -Light scattering Malvern Zetasizer; -Nano-particle analyser Nanosight NS500; -Confocal Scanning Laser Microscope Olympus BX61/Fluoview100; -Fluorescence Microscope Olympus, Model BX51.

Research topics, techniques and equipment not related to Electroporation

Application of moderate electric fields (MEF) has been addressed by our researchers to the production of structured systems, such as packaging and coating materials, micro- and nanosystems for encapsulation of bioactive compounds, using bio-based, mostly food-grade materials (e.g. polysaccharides and proteins), extracted and obtained from food waste and non-traditional sources. In particular, EF has shown the ability to control the denaturation and aggregation kinetic behavior of proteins upon heating. The development of those structured systems through application of EF is being made aiming at the fabrication of novel food-grade network systems with tailored functional and technological properties that can have many potential uses in food formulations (i.e. enhancement of textural properties, action as stabilizing agents and delivery of biologically active substances). Developed works are related with: 1)Effects of EF technology on the preservation and quality of several food products constituting valuable information for regulatory approval and as backup for investment decisions from food processors. In particular, in order to achieve their full potential for industrial implementation and commercial exploitation the following topics have already been covered: - Evaluation of EF on quality changes and properties of several food products susceptible to the severity of traditional food processing technologies such as highly viscous fruit preparations and protein-rich liquid food products, such as milk and whey ingredients (Castro, Teixeira et al. 2004; Pereira, Pereira et al. 2007; Pereira, Martins et al. 2008); - Process constraints, environmental impact and energy consumption (Castro, Teixeira et al. 2003; Pereira and Vicente 2010; Pataro, Barca et al. 2014) - Determination of the inactivation kinetics of microorganisms and several enzymes, most of them used as time-temperature integrators in the food industry (Castro, Macedo et al. 2004; Pereira, Martins et al. 2007; Machado, Pereira et al. 2010). 2)R&D for novel uses of EF processing with applicability both in food and bioprocessing domains: - Controlling the size of denaturated protein particles by modulating the balance between attractive and repulsive forces during denaturation and propagation step of protein thermal aggregation (Pereira, Souza et al. 2010; Pereira 2011; Pereira, Teixeira et al. 2011); - As a tool for the change of edible food packaging materials’ properties (Souza, Cerqueira et al. 2009; Pereira, Souza et al. 2010; Souza, Cerqueira et al. 2010).

Brief information on available facilites

The Centre of Biological Engineering counts with several well-equipped laboratories. Some of the equipments available are presented at

Willingness to accept/host visiting researchers

Project Office

Working groups

Steering Committee

Founding members

DC Rapporteurs

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