Global sustainable development concept, environmental backgrounds. NASA imagery used

Bioeconomy at Fraunhofer IGB

Our topics and projects in the field of bioeconomy

Bioeconomy at Fraunhofer IGB

Fossil resources such as crude oil and natural gas are currently still indispensable as starting materials for the production of basic chemicals. However, in view of global population growth and rising living standards, the current oil-based economy is reaching its limits, especially with regard to climate-relevant environmental aspects. For example, the use of fossil raw materials has contributed significantly to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide or the littering of the oceans. And the availability of fossil resources is limited.   

Biomass represents an alternative and renewable raw material basis for the production of chemical products. Its use and conversion is the basis of a biobased economy, in short bioeconomy. The aim is to bring economy and ecology into harmony to the greatest possible extent – in other words, to make processes both environmentally compatible and economical so that new processes can be applied on a large scale as quickly as possible. If renewable raw materials, biogenic residues – or directly carbon dioxide (CO2) – are used instead of fossil carbon sources for the production of chemicals, this helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate, thus enabling the implementation of sustainability goals in the sense of a sustainable bioeconomy in the future.

Welcome to Fraunhofer IGB

Dr. Markus Wolperdinger gives an overview of the Institute. *Please enable english subtitle.

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At the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, we are guided by the principles of nature and combine biology and state-of-the-art technology. Our focus is on the environment, health and sustainable chemistry. Contact us if you are interested in developing and scaling your innovative processes or as a start-up to initiate your projects through funding programs. Our mission is to advance sustainable technologies for healthy people in a healthy environment. We would be happy if we were to move closer to this goal together.

Our research topics

Find out about current projects in which we are developing processes for manufacturing sustainable and biodegradable products. Find out about our activities to use alternative resources such as microalgae, renewable raw materials and biogenic residues, to recycle valuable materials or recover them for reuse. Discover as our company partner here the possibilities for your contemporary production.  

Microalgae biotechnology

  • Microalgae biorefinery
    Project FuTuReS – Economic and ecological evaluation of a biorefinery approach for the production of fucoxanthin and EPA on a pilot scale and transdisciplinary developed scenarios on an industrial scale in Germany
  • Production of valuable substances (omega-3 fatty acids (EPA), fucoxanthin) for cosmetics, food and feed
    Project MIATEST – Functional ingredients from algae for health-promoting food and as plant strengthening agent in viticulture
  • Efficient extraction processes for the processing of valuable substances
  • New modularized reactor concept and intelligent control
  • Scaling of microalgae-based processes and customized production of functional ingredients
 

Microalgae produce a large number of basic chemical substances such as vitamins, fatty acids or carotenoids, using sunlight as an energy source and CO2 as a carbon source.

Innovation fields

Reference projects

Use of wood/lignocellulose

  • Lignocellulose biorefinery
    Digestion of wood as raw material and its fractionation into the basic chemical constituents lignin and sugar or fiber
  • Cellulase production on a large scale
    Project 2GEnzymes – Enzymatically optimized organosolv fractionation with integrated enzyme production
  • High-value intermediates (high purity xylan) from beech wood
    Project XyloSolv – Sequential extraction process for the production of high-value intermediates from beech wood
 

The focus is on pulping of lignocellulosic raw materials and the fractionation of biomass into its basic chemical components lignin and sugars or fibers.

Reference projects

Use of biopolymers, production of biobased polymers

  • Synthesis of biobased monomers and polymers
  • Building blocks from terpenes
    Project TerPa – Terpenes as building blocks for biobased polyamides
  • Insect biorefinery – holistic use of insect skins, proteins and fats
    Project ChitoTex – Development and production of new insect chitosan and chitosan based functional coatings for yarns and textile fabrics
  • Bopolymers for packaging materials
    Microbially produced biodegradable biopolymer; the producing microorganisms are able to transform sustainable carbon sources like methane from the biogas production, sugars derived from cellulose and hemicellulose from forestry and agricultural residues, and glycerol resulting from biodiesel production.
    Project SusPackaging – Sustainable production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) for packaging materials
 

Starting from renewable raw materials such as sugar, rapeseed oil or algae lipids, we have identified biotechnological synthesis pathways for basic materials for plastics production, such as short- and long-chain dicarboxylic acids.

Biosurfactants – Biobased alternatives for cleaning and cosmetics

  • Microbial biosurfactant production
    using renewable raw materials such as lignocellulose-based sugar solutions or vegetable oils as substrate in the culture medium
  • Optimization of the fermentative production of biosurfactants
    Project SurfGlyco – Improved strategies for the biotechnological production of tailor-made biosurfactants
  • Selection and optimization of biocatalysts
  • Scale-up to pilot plant scale to m³
 

Various fungi naturally secrete the biosurfactants MEL and CL with broad application potential, e.g. as cleaning agents or as emulsifiers.

 

Power-to-X

  • Recovery of CO2
    Project Celbicon – Cost-effective carbon dioxide conversion into chemicals and
    Project CO2EXIDE – CO2-based electrosynthesis of ethylene oxide
  • Electricity-based fuels and chemicals
    Project SynLink – Synthetic e-fuels as key enabler for sector linking
    Fraunhofer Electrolysis Platform Leuna ELP; Hy2Chem platform

Video: CO2EXIDE – CO2-based electrosynthesis of ethylene oxide

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Due to the availability of renewable electrical energy, the chemical and energy sectors will increasingly merge in the future, as the redox equivalents generated can be used for synthesis processes in power-to-x processes.

Reference projects

Sustainable bioeconomy for the environment

  • Flexible production of bioenergy
    Project NextGenBiogas – Flexible production of bioenergy can contribute stability for power grids
  • Water reuse
    Project Hypowave – Water reuse in agriculture

Video: Feasibility study: Wastewater as resource

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Following the example of natural material cycles, developments to increase the efficiency of biogas plants, to recover recyclable materials and to reuse water are an important contribution.

Biological materials for 3D printing

At the High Performance Center Mass Personalization in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB is optimizing biological materials for 3D printing. The aim is to produce biological or biologically functional tissues. This should enable personalized therapies, for example the production of personalized implants.

Video: Biological materials for 3D printing

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Visit our labs!

Virtual 360° tour of laboratories and technical centers in Stuttgart

Discover the plants and facilities at Fraunhofer CBP in a virtual 360° tour

Analytics

Development also involves analysis and testing. Fraunhofer IGB has an extensive range of high-quality equipment designed to test components, materials, coatings and processes and to reproducibly demonstrate their levels of functionality, safety and reliability. We also offer contract testing services and issue test reports.

Analysis, characterization and testing services

 

Contact

Sabine Krieg, MBA

Contact Press / Media

Dipl.-Agr.-Biol. Sabine Krieg, MBA

Business Development | Head of High Performance Center Mass Personalization

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 970-4003

Fax +49 711 970-4200

Gerd Unkelbach

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Gerd Unkelbach

Head of Leuna Site | Head of Business Area Sustainable Chemistry

Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP
Am Haupttor (Tor 12, Bau 1251)
06237 Leuna

Phone +49 3461 43-9101

Fax +49 3461 43-9199

Ursula Schließmann

Contact Press / Media

Dr.-Ing. Ursula Schließmann

Head of Business Area Environment | Head of Innovation Field Algae Biotechnology

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 970-4222

Fax +49 711 970-4200

Steffen Rupp

Contact Press / Media

apl. Prof. Dr. Steffen Rupp

Deputy Director | Head of Business Area Health

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 970-4045

Fax +49 711 970-4200