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. 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 transformation of terpenes (residual material of wood processing) to biosurfactants, biobased epoxides or monomers, especially impact-resistant, cold-stable polyamides. Other recycled material flows are vegetable oils and fatty acids, lignin and nitrogenous sugar, which are, for example, converted to functionalized carboxylic acids, conductive polymers, and monomers for polyesters and hydrocolloids.
Chemical and biotechnological catalysis
Chemical reactions in industrial production processes can be slow or incomplete and may create undesirable side products. With smart combination of chemical and biotechnological catalysis, processes are modified in a way that they run more efficiently and thus more economically.