Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project "E³-Production"

Efficient – emissions neutral – ergonomic

© Fraunhofer IGB

For manufacturing companies it is becoming ever more important to use alternative and regenerative energy sources efficiently and to recycle materials. In an increasingly digitalized and networked production environment the part played by people also needs to be reconsidered. Against this background the aim of the Fraunhofer lighthouse Project “E³-Production” is to research how material, energy and information flows in emission-neutral E³ factories with energy- and resource-efficient production can in future be better planned, implemented, evaluated and controlled in an integrated approach that takes into account the way people are involved.

The Fraunhofer IGB is involved in two subprojects. An efficient high-performance biotechnological process for the separation and concentration of metals from diluted technical process media is being developed in the subproject “Integrated Process Chain Engineering”. The synergetic examination of social and ecological criteria in an efficient production sequence is the focus of the subproject “Sustainability and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Production Processes for German Industry – SUSPROFIT”.

Ultra-short process chains – Integrated process technology for separating metals


Fixed-bed circulation reactor.

In the subproject “Integrated Process Chain Engineering” a fixed-bed circulation reactor was built and a biotechnological process was established for the treatment of used cooling lubricants from the metalworking industry. The fixed-bed circulation reactor developed at the IGB operates on the principle of an ultrashort process chain, since it permits various process steps at the same time: the immobilization of microorganisms on fixed-bed particles, the biologically induced precipitation of the metals, the purification of the particles as well as the separation of the precipitated metals by integrating a hydrocyclone.

The final product of this biotechnological treatment is a highly concentrated metal-bearing solid matter fraction in high quality (> 5 g/kg separated solid material). The particle characteristics, the morphological growth of the microorganisms, the mechanical stability of the particles, the flow properties of the bulk discharge as well as the costs for a scale-up were identified in order to design the fixed-bed circulation reactor. The dimensions were determined for a mass flow in the reactor using modified calculation models from bulk material technology. Suitable microbial populations were enriched from the medium and the ion analysis necessary to characterize the course of the process was established. After validation the process is being operated on a pilot scale over a longer period of time. After that it will be available for other process waters.