Master thesis: Screening of extraction processes for secondary metabolites from industrial hemp Cannabis sativa

Fraunhofer IME Master Class – Master thesis offer at Fraunhofer IME in Aachen, in the Department Integrated Production Platforms (IPP)

Master thesis: Screening of extraction processes for secondary metabolites from industrial hemp Cannabis sativa

The Fraunhofer-Institute for molecular biology and applied ecology conducts research at the interface between academia and industry in the field of applied life sciences from a molecular level to entire ecosystems. Our Interdisciplinary organization and our modern laboratories, equipped with state-of the art infrastructure, offer a broad research and development Portfolio.

Industrial hemp products have a wide-rang of applications e.g. in textiles as well as in building materials and cosmetics. Hemp seed oil, which contains vitamins, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, is used by the food industry as a dietary supplement. Especially cannabinoids like canabidiol (CBD), some of the secondary metabolites from the industrial hemp Cannabis sativa, are becoming increasingly important for the food industry and medical applications. Therefore, this project focusses on the establishment, screening and optimiziation of processes to isolate the food relevant cannabinoids and proteins from the plant tissues of C. sativa. The release of the secondary metabolites from the plant tissues can be achieved by different mixing and/or grinding techniques including extraction buffers. The isolation will also include filtration steps.

Activities and responsibilities

Which tasks you will perform
This project is designed to be conducted as a combined research project/internship and subsequent master thesis. The student accepted for this Master thesis has to develop, establish and optimize different extraction strategies for secondary metabolites from C. sativa. For extraction an initial screening for suitable extracting agents and mixtures of agents will take place in highly parallelized bioprocess devices in 1 ml scale. The best extracting agents identified within this screening will be used for further process development on a larger scale. Included in the development will be the optimization of process parameters like process temperature, pH, salt content of the buffer and extraction time. In order to accelerate the development phase and assemble predictive models, design of experiment (DoE) approaches will be used to minimize the experimental effort. Furthermore, general analytical methods like high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) need to be adapted to identify and quantify secondary metabolites that can be extracted from C. sativa as well as impurities. Afterwards, the master student has to evaluate the methods in terms of process economics using indicators such as process time, investment costs, labor intensity, scalability and controllability.

Qualification profile

What we expect from you
  • Good basic knowledge in biochemistry and biotechnology
  • Knowledge working with general molecularbiological techniques 
  • Interested to obtain more insights within issues of today’s plant biotechnology, design of experiment approaches and state of the art bioprocess development techniques
  • Fluency in spoken and written English is required to handle current literature and communicate within the international atmosphere of the Fraunhofer IME Institute
  • Electronic data handling, working with Excel and PowerPoint

In case of identical qualifications, preference will be given to severely disabled candidates.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is committed to providing equal career opportunities for men and women.

Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization. Our research efforts are geared entirely to people’s needs: health, security, communication, energy and the environment. As a result, the work undertaken by our researchers and developers has a significant impact on people’s lives. We are creative. We shape technology. We design products. We improve methods and techniques. We open up new vistas.

Send application to

In case of any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact:
Michael Limberg

Phone: +49 241 6085 35062

For environmental reasons we kindly ask you to only apply online, by pressing the "Apply"-button. Please submit all relevant documents, including a cover letter which states your earliest starting date.
While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: IME-MB-2018-15

About Fraunhofer-Institut für Molekularbiologie und Angewandte Oekologie IME

Das Fraunhofer-Institut für Molekularbiologie und Angewandte Oekologie IME ist eines von derzeit 66 Instituten und Forschungseinrichtungen der Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, der größten Organisation für angewandte Forschung in Europa. Mit ihrer zentralen Aufgabe »Forschen für die Praxis« prägt die Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in enger Kooperation mit ihren...

More about Fraunhofer-Institut für Molekularbiologie und Angewandte Oekologie IME

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