The focus of Fraunhofer IGB’s Straubing branch "Bio-, Electro- and Chemocatalysis BioCat" is on the development of new chemical catalysts and biocatalysts and their application in technical-synthetic and electrochemical processes. Based on substrates such as biomass, CO2 and waste streams, the entire spectrum of catalysis is used to develop new sustainable and resource-efficient chemical products. Here, homogeneous and heterogeneous chemical catalysis, enzymatic and whole cell catalysis, electrocatalysis, and especially their combinations are utilized.
Use of biomass
In the case of using plant biomass, the goal is to achieve the substantial use of the material variety of biobased molecules and to exploit the potential of chemicals and biocatalysis so as to achieve a considerate transformation while obtaining important functionalities. Successful examples of our work include the conversion of terpenes (residual material of wood processing) into biosurfactants, biobased epoxides or monomers for particularly impact-resistant, cold-stable polyamides. Other recycled material flows are vegetable oils and fatty acids, lignin and nitrogenous sugar, which are, for example, converted into functionalized carboxylic acids, conductive polymers, and monomers for polyesters and hydrocolloids.
Use of CO2
In addition, the group is developing new processes to use electrical energy by binding and converting CO2 into chemical energy storage. These products and the corresponding processes are provided to companies for the production of bulk and fine chemicals. On the other hand, they can be used to store regenerative energy in fuels, for example in the form of longer-chain hydrocarbons, thus contributing to the success of the energy turnaround. The aim is to achieve the best possible value creation from raw material to biobased end product.