UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Biochemical Reaction Engineering and Biocatalysts

Course Title BENG3008
Level Three
Credits 0.5
Course Tutors Professor Nicolas Szita
Professor Asterios Gavriilidis (Dept of Chemical Engineering)
Assessment Three-hour written examination (80%)
Course work/ case study (20%)
Prerequisites The student should demonstrate ability at solving first-order differential equations, mass balances and basic chemistry, as well as basic knowledge of enzyme catalysis and enzyme production methods.


This course provides the Biochemical Engineering students with the necessary knowledge of the fundamentals of reaction engineering, reactor design and operation with special emphasis on biocatalytic processes.

Learning Hours


Lectures: 30h
Problem solving sessions/case studies: 10h


  • Introduction to reactor engineering: Brief survey of the scope of the subject together with a review of some of its foundations. Definition of terms, classification of reactions, reversible and irreversible reactions, kinetics of reaction, rate and order of reaction, the general mole balance, Arrhenius equation. Effect of pressure.
  • Reactor design and performance for single reactions: Type of reactors. Ideal, batch reactors, mixed flow and plug flow reactors. Conversion and reactor sizing: Definition of conversion. Design equations for batch and flow systems. Reactors in series. Space velocity and space time. Rate laws and stoichiometry: Concepts of reaction rate, reaction order, elementary reaction and molecularity. Stoichiometric table. Reactions with phase change. Isothermal reactor design: Design structure for isothermal batch, plug flow and continuous stirred reactors. Design of multiple reactor systems. Pressure drop in reactors. Reversible reactions.
  • Biocatalyst kinetics: including Michaelis-Menten kinetics, substrate and product inhibition and toxicity.  Reaction equilibria.  Asymmetric synthesis and resolution - including an understanding of ee calculations.  Biocatalysts and their production and selection - including the alternative forms of biocatalyst and their selection. 
  • Heterogeneous reactions: Methods of immobilization. Reasons for biocatalyst immobilization. Effect of biocatalyst immobilization on kinetics. External and internal diffusion resistances. Effectiveness factor, Damkohler number and Thiele modulus.
  • Biocatalytic reactors and bioreactor integration into process: Biocatalytic reaction kinetics in ideal reactors: Batch stirred tank reactor, continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), continuous plug flow reactor (CPFR). Comparison of CSTR and CFPR. Requirements of downstream processing in biocatalysis. In-situ product removal. Industrial examples.
  • Microfluidic bioreactor design: microfabrication, microflow phenomena.