Food, animal feed and cosmetics

Given their antioxidant, immunostimulant or antimicrobial properties, functional ingredients made of microalgae can be used as animal feed or food supplements. The same is true of certain byproducts from the agricultural and food industries. For this purpose, we develop cultivation methods and product-friendly separation methods for extraction and purification. In addition, we develop new physical processes to stabilize and preserve food, cosmetics, active ingredients and plant extracts.

Functional ingredients

Gentle extraction and fractionation processes

The product-friendly and efficient extraction of functional ingredients from biogenic raw or residual materials as well as intermediate products of agricultural and food production is a main focus at Fraunhofer IGB.

The focus is on the development of processes for extraction and fractionation using high-pressure technology in combination with pressure change technology (PCT) and the application of electrophoretic and mechanical separation processes for the purification of the ingredients.

Functional ingredients from microalgae

Microalgae form a variety of substances with antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties. For the production of valuable substances from microalgae – such as omega-3 fatty acids (EPA) and the carotenoids fucoxanthin, lutein or astaxanthin – we develop efficient extraction processes using supercritical fluids and high-pressure liquid extraction (PLE). The aim is to preserve the technofunctional and nutritional properties of the products for applications in the food and cosmetics industries.

Organic acids, biosurfactants, enzymes

Organic acids have a preservative effect, biosurfactants can be used as emulsifiers and enzymes have become important aids in the food industry, for example when it comes to the saccharification of starch or the accelerated ripening of meat. Fraunhofer IGB establishes and optimizes biotechnological processes for the conversion of biogenic raw and residual materials up to pilot plant scale.

Physical processes for stabilization and pasteurization

© Fraunhofer IGB

Longer shelf life with the same product quality – food, cosmetics and active ingredients must be stabilized or preserved without impairing the taste or damaging functional ingredients. Conventional methods such as heat sterilization can destroy heat-sensitive ingredients such as vitamins and enzymes, and the addition of chemical preservatives is no longer required by consumers.

One focus at Fraunhofer IGB is the development of new processes to improve the shelf life (stabilization and preservation) of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and plant extracts. Here, for example, we are investigating pressure change technology with regard to its effect of inactivating microbial contamination. Since this process works at low temperatures below 50°C, the biological function of valuable ingredients, such as vitamins, is not impaired during treatment.

The spectrum is supplemented by UV irradiation with newly developed excimer lamps.

Packaging – Functional surfaces for durability and safety

Barriereschicht
© Fraunhofer IGB

Barrier layers, e.g. against water vapor or oxygen, play an increasingly important role, especially in the food industry, as they protect the product against unwanted oxidation or dehydration. We also develop surfaces from which liquid/viscose products run off better. A further application of plasma technology established at the IGB are safety labels which guarantee the originality of the packaging and thus protect against product piracy.

Analysis, testing, evaluation

Fraunhofer IGB develops three-dimensional in vitro models based on human cells and tissues, cell-based assays and rapid tests (e.g. lateral flow assays) that can be used to examine ingredients and active substances for various parameters.


For the detection of pyrogenic substances (remnants of bacteria, fungi or viruses) we use the receptors of the innate immune system in our cell-based test system. A new rapid test stick can be further developed for the detection of allergens in food.