Katrine Esmann Pedersen

Helix Lab Fellow, Class of Spring 2022
Katrine Esmann Pedersen

MSc study:

MSc Chemical and Biochemical Engineering



University of Southern Denmark (SDU)



Novo Nordisk A/S


Project title:

Characterization of the crystallization step in the API recovery process

Project description:

A typical process for the core production of an API – Insulin consists of three main stages: fermentation, recovery, and purification. In the last two steps of the recovery process, the API is crystallized in a mixing tank by pH adjustment and adding anti-solvent. Then, the crystallized API is captured and separated from the suspension using filtration. In the current state, the operating conditions have been fixed over time, even though other conditions have changed upstream.

Therefore, the opportunity to find the most optimal operating conditions for the crystallization step should be investigated. The crystallization step affects the performance of the downstream filtration and plays an important role in the capacity of the recovery process, in terms of mass and time. In the future state, the crystallization step must be characterized (solubility curve, crystal size distribution, etc.) to be able to define the operating space and perform the optimization of the operating conditions.


What was your motivation for becoming a Helix Lab Fellow?

My main motivation for becoming a Helix Lab Fellow was to establish a close relationship with the industry. Through my studies, I have prioritised my education and thereby I have focused less on gaining working experience through study-related jobs. I, therefore, saw the Helix Lab Fellowship as an extraordinary opportunity to gain insight into the everyday life of engineers employed in a large company. In addition, I greatly enjoy the real-life aspect that the collaboration between industry and university brings to my master thesis.


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

In my opinion, one of the greatest aspects of being a Helix Lab Fellow is that you expand your network and become part of different teams - both in the industry, at Helix Lab, and at the dorm. Hereby, you are surrounded by people who can support you during your project - both professionally and socially.


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

By being a Helix Lab Fellow, I have already had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time at the company - working alongside both engineers in the office buildings and process operators, etc. in the production facilities. This has greatly improved my understanding of what is expected of me in a working environment, but also what I expect from a workplace as a newly educated engineer. In addition, I believe that by meeting people in different departments, with different job titles, and different working fields, I have gained a better understanding of what I desire to use my education for. I believe that this will be a great benefit for me when I start my working career.