Alonso Malacara Becerra

Helix Lab Fellow, Class of Spring 2022
Alonso Malacara Becerra

MSc study:

MSc in biotechnology


Technical University of Denmark (DTU) & Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico


Novozymes A/S

Project title:

A plant-wide analysis of an industrial flocculation process in biomanufacturing

Project description:

The industrial wastewater treatment plant (iWWTP) from Novozymes, production site Kalundborg, processes waste streams derived from upstream fermentation and separation operations. These correspond to an organic load equivalent to a 2.4 million people city, positioning it as the largest iWWTP in Northern Europe. More than 4000 m3 of biomass slurry are dewatered every day in decanter centrifuges. Two main challenges hinder a higher level of automatization of this dewatering operation. First, upstream production results in varying biomass characteristics for each waste batch. To add to this, the particle processes behind flocculation in the dewatering units are poorly understood. This project is aimed towards developing a data-driven model for the prediction of flocculation quality in the decanters of the Novozymes iWWTP.


What was your motivation for becoming a Helix Lab Fellow?

I saw an opportunity to challenge myself by engaging fully in an industrial bioengineering project, in collaboration with a top international biotech company. I pictured my future self in this exact scenario during my bachelor’s degree and I knew Helix Lab was the way to fulfill this goal. The decision of participating in this while experiencing the Danish culture was a no-brainer. 


What is the most exciting part of being a Helix Lab Fellow?

The feeling of being a pioneer in such an impactful program. I know that Helix Lab will be involved in the professional formation of many generations of scientists that are interested in bioproduction research, like me. So far, being a Helix Lab fellow has got me doing research in state-of-the-art facilities, in an interdisciplinary environment, and to come up with a comprehensive solution to modern biomanufacturing obstacles.


What perspectives do you see for your future after being a Helix Lab Fellow?

I am pushing myself to develop new tools and knowledge, that are valuable to increase sustainability of biomanufacturing. With enough effort, I might get to be a part of one of the biotech companies from the Kalundborg Biocluster. From there, I want to keep addressing the challenges that hinder sustainability of the industry, especially related to waste reduction and revalorization.