The core competence of the department is developing robust biotechnological processes for the production of basic chemicals, which may either be used as raw materials or as sources of energy (methane, ethanol and methanol). In this context “robust” means processes that are resistant to contamination and thus can be operated continuously under aseptic (non-sterile) conditions. Processes are designed exclusively on the basis of microbiological parameters, such as the growth and degradation kinetics of the different organisms concerned. Our engineering activities extend from the planning, commissioning and optimization of laboratory and pilot plants to the planning, construction, commissioning and optimization of innovative demonstration plants in cooperation with our industrial partners. Intelligent combination of the unit operations of mechanical and chemical process engineering (including downstream processing) with bioprocesses using modeling and simulation methods gives us a unique selling proposition, as does our expertise in the targeted colonization and depletion of microorganisms on surfaces.
- Both classic and “continuous” high-throughput screening methods for autochthonic production strains as high potentials for robust processes or new product lines
- Batch, fed-batch, and continuous fermentation processes, including those involving partial or total cell retention
- Cultivation of microalgae in photobioreactors
- Microbiological characterization of surfaces using standard processes and application-oriented processes, including development of test procedures
- Psychrophilic, mesophilic, and thermophilic bioprocesses
- Development of real-time processes for monitoring water systems for contamination
- Modeling of processes and simulation of process lines
- Scale-up of processes and scale-down of unstable process states to solve problems during technical operation
- Downstream processing technologies such as membrane-based filtration processes, liquid-liquid extraction, and extraction with supercritical media
- Integrated models for management of energy, waste and water
The use of anaerobic biocatalysts to produce bulk chemicals or energy carriers has the advantage of a 90 percent carbon-source-to-product yield. The use of rapidly growing photoautotrophic cells (microalgae) also leads to comparatively higher productivities than is achievable with terrestrial plants. Further benefits are reduced water requirements and the feasibility of water-based production of algae.
The Environmental Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering Department is thus in a position to take part in solving socio-political challenges such as the greenhouse effect, energy supply and freshwater shortage. By offering sustainable technology options, the department can help industry, communities and policymakers design a balanced future. Combining our competences with those of other Fraunhofer IGB departments, we serve the needs of the chemical, energy and environmental business areas.