The heat flux immediately reflects metabolic changes, is measurable online and non-invasively. Calorimetry is nowadays much more sensitive than other online monitoring tools. Furthermore, the comparison of the measured reaction heat with the enthalpy balance may reveal unexpected side reactions
- to quantify metabolic changes during microbial adaptation to hostile environments,
- to obtain quantitative insights into the fate of contaminants,
- to characterize mixed substrate utilization (e.g. under oligotroph conditions)
- characterize the metabolic performance of high diverse microbiota in soil or sludge, and
- to optimize biotechnological processes.
Despite its potential calorimetry is rather seldomly used in environmental biotechnology due to
- the high price of calorimeters,
- their low flexibility for integrating them into technical processes, and
- the unsuitability for high-throughput measurements.
Our group in tight cooperation with other groups worldwide tries to overcome this situation by
- developing calorimetric techniques for whole heat balanced bioreactors at bench as well as technical scales (Megacalorimetry),
- validating and advancing miniaturized calorimeters for monitoring both cell suspensions and periphyton (Chip calorimetry), and
- by contributing to the basics for high-throughput calorimetry (Enthalpy arrays).