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BB2480 Energy and Environment 7.5 credits

Today, exhaust and pollution of the environment are of high concern to many of us. This involves both the production of products from non-sustainable resources but also the waste that we are continuously accumulating in water, soil and in the air. For treatment of these problems, now and in the future, the efficient use of living cells constitutes an important tool. This course gives you an overview of areas and methods where living cells are used to contribute to the goal of a sustainable environment. This involves the use of biological methods for example in treatment of waste, to enrich compounds from low mineral ore, design and operation of commercial bioprocesses for production of chemicals, biomaterials and biofuels. The course will also treat examples of the negative impact that microbial activity might have, for example in the spoilage of food and beverages and the metal pollution of ground water that is a result of mining processes.

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
Headings with content from the Course syllabus BB2480 (Spring 2012–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

No information inserted

Intended learning outcomes

After completion of the course the student should:

Knowledge and understanding

  • understand and describe how microorganisms can utilise biomass-based waste products as substrates for growth and production where the biomass primarily is lignocellulose
  • be able to describe and understand how living cells can be selected, designed and operated in a way that leads to accumulation of high amounts of small organic molecules and in which way they are used in the treatment of waste
  • understand how microbial cells generate energy and regenerate cofactors both aerobically and anaerobically and how this information can be used in the design of microorganisms where byproduct formation is minimised
  • be able to describe the degradation pathways and thus understand the undesired effects of microbial activity in relation to commercially produced products such as food and beverages but also naturally occurring processes
  • be able to describe the large scale bioprocesses used to produce small molecule products and the processes for treatment of waste
  • know the basic concerns of establishment of a biorefinery, the means of how it operates and be able to give concrete examples
  • have a deeper knowledge in one subject of the course

Skills and abilities

  • be able to set up and calculate intracellular metabolic fluxes, on the basis of knowledge of metabolism gained from the literature, and by programming in Matlab
  • be able to design experiments and perform carbon and redox balances to evaluate product and byproduct formation of microorganisms under specific environmental conditions
  • be able to communicate the contents of a set of peer reviewed scientific papers to an audience which does not have any prior knowledge of the subject
  • be able to calculate appropriate sterilization times based on knowledge of microbial activity
  • be able to describe the basic principles of Life Cycle Analysis/Assessment

Ability to judge and to adopt a standpoint

  • have an overview of waste biomass worldwide and be able to critically reflect on its benefits and drawbacks with regard to microbial production of selected substances and with respect to the needs of the society
  • be able to evaluate the merits of different biofuels with respect to the efficiency of their biological production processes, the product quality in relation to their use and the degree of sustainability of the processes
  • be able to reflect on common methods for treatment of polluted water and soil regarding the efficiency of the techniques
  • be able to critically read and extract information from papers in peer reviewed journals and use this as theoretical support for reaching the course goals and to find, read and extract information from such papers to form a critical opinion on a given subject

Course disposition

Lectures and Seminars.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

At least 150 credits from grades 1, 2 and 3 of which at least 100 credits from years 1 and 2, and bachelor's work must be completed.  The 150 credits should include a minimum of 20 credits within the fields of Mathematics, Numerical Analysis and Computer Sciences, 5 of these must be within the fields of Numerical Analysis and Computer Sciences, 30 credits of Chemistry, possibly including courses in Chemical Measuring Techniques and 20 credits of Biotechnology or Molecular Biology.

Recommended prerequisites

A thorough knowledge of Biochemistry is absolutely necessary. Skills in Matlab and linear algebra will greatly enhance the learning outcome. The course “Cell factories” will give a good background to the metabolism discussed.


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Publications from peer reviewed journals

Compendium: Enfors: Food microbiology

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • SEM1 - Seminar, 2.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Examination, 5.0 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Participation at

  • Lectures
  • Seminars in industrial processes
  • Seminars in flux analysis.

Other requirements for final grade

  • SEM1-Seminar in Flux analysis and Seminar in industrial processes, 2,5 credits. Mark: P/F

  • TEN1-Written examination, 5 credits. Mark: A,B,C,D,E,FX,F

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web BB2480

Offered by

CBH/Industrial Biotechnology

Main field of study


Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted

Supplementary information

Students are required to sign up at least two weeks in advance for examination.

The course is given provided at least seven students are admitted.