The Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (PUCV) began its academic activities in March 1928. Linked to the Church through the diocese of Valparaíso, in 2003 the University received the title of Pontifical. At the present, the University has nine Faculties: Law, Engineering, Economic and Administrative Sciences, Architecture and Urbanism, Philosophy and Education, Agronomic and Food Sciences, Sciences, Marine Sciences and Geography, and Ecclesiastical Theology. According to the America Economy 2019 Ranking, the PUCV ranks fourth among Chilean universities, and is ranked 23rd in the Times Higher Education Ranking Latin America 2019. The University has more than 16,000 undergraduate and 1600 postgraduate students.
The School of Biochemical Engineering (SBE) at the Faculty of Engineering, has been a pioneer in Chile and one of the first in Latin America, in the training of professionals in the area of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology. 50 years after its creation, the SBE holds two undergraduate programs; Biochemical Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering, and a Master and Doctoral program on Biochemical Engineering. The main areas of research are: Biocatalysis, Cell Culture Engineering, Recovery of Biomolecules, and Environmental Biotechnology. The group of environmental biotechnology has a wide and rich experience in the design and development of anaerobic digestion bioreactors for the treatment of industrial effluents and municipal wastewater, bioremediation, and the treatment of gaseous emission using biological techniques. The Group of biofiltration of gaseous emissions has been involved in the development of research projects, financed mainly by the National Commission for Science and Technology, related with the treatment of emissions containing volatile sulphur compounds, at moderate and high temperatures, using extremophiles microorganisms, as well as its modelling and simulation. The biofiltration of low concentration methane emissions has been also studied in conventional and non-conventional biofiltration systems. Nowadays the biofiltration of complex mixtures causing odour nuisance is under research, looking at the stratification of the microbial communities in the biofiltration systems using molecular techniques.
The Biocatalysis group is devoted to the optimization of the operation of enzymatic reactors, in the design of new immobilization strategies to produce robust high efficiency catalysts in productive conditions, and in the development of new processes or products where the properties of enzymes represent competitive advantages over other technologies. This Group has been involved in the development of research and applied projects funded by the National Commission for Science and Technology for more than two decades and in direct collaboration with the industrial sector. The main activities of the Group nowadays are focused on the study of cascade enzymatic reactions in one-pot systems for applications in the wine industry and for the production of sweeteners and prebiotics. Recently, the research interest has extended to the study of enzymes with interest in CO2 capturing for the production of organic molecules with added value.