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Prof Alex Van Eck Conradie
Department of Biochemical Engineering
Bernard Katz Building
Prof Alex Van Eck Conradie profile picture
  • Professor in Sustainable Bioprocess Engineering
  • Dept of Biochemical Engineering
  • Faculty of Engineering Science
Alex graduated with a BEng (Hons) in chemical engineering from Stellenbosch University in 1995 followed by two formative years working in the industrial gases sector as a production engineer. Having established a firm interest in process control and the associated economic benefits, he returned to Stellenbosch University, completing an MSc and a PhD in chemical engineering with a focus on non-linear process control. During his PhD, Alex was a visiting researcher at the University of Texas at Austin within Computer Science, fostering an abiding interest in optimisation methodologies. Given the challenges presented by the non-linear dynamics associated with bioreactors, Alex returned to industry within the biotechnology sector. He was responsible for the R&D, scale-up and technology transfer for a number of new amino acid production technologies with a particular focus on fermentation cultivation strategies and continuous adsorption processes. Moving to the UK, Alex gained expertise in the biologics sector within senior technical and programme management leadership roles. Returning to industrial biotechnology, Alex led as primary inventor in the creation of the technology platform within a polymer manufacturer's Sustainability Group, geared towards polyamide monomer and alkene production. He spearheaded the establishment of a world-class gas fermentation laboratory and systems biology capability. In the interface between science and engineering, he filled a pivotal role as technology integrator covering process conceptualisation, techno-economic analysis, scale-up, process modelling and process design; collaborating with centres of excellence within the UK, USA and Europe.
Research Summary
Alex is passionate about sustainability. His primary research focus is on technology integration towards techno-economically feasible manufacturing processes within a circular economy. Optimisation lies at the heart of all Alex' research endeavours. Combining the best of biotechnology with the best of chemo-catalysis, Alex has a keen interest in self-sustaining processes, thereby minimising the variable operating cost. Advanced Process Control and Artificial intelligence offer numerous opportunities to minimise fixed operating cost, creating the autonomous manufacturing facilities of the future.  
Teaching Summary
Alex has an enthusiasm for sharing his appreciable industry experience with students, having worked in both the industrial biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals sectors between 2002 and 2016. His teaching interests span Process Synthesis & Design and Modern Control Engineering.
Academic Background
  PhD A Neurocontrol Paradigm for Intelligent Process Control using Evolutionary Reinforcement Learning  
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