Production of biocatalysts

The development of sustainable biotechnological processes for the production of platform and fine chemicals requires high-performance biocatalysts. Depending on the specific application, these can be enzymes or microorganisms as whole cell catalysts.


From screening to production on pilot scale

The development of stable, highly active enzymes begins with screening for new enzymes, e.g. in soil samples or, if there is sufficient data on structure-function relationships, in sequence databases. Once suitable candidates have been found, we use bacteria or yeasts for the efficient production of the enzymes. We establish and optimize their cultivation from shaking flask scale to laboratory reactors and pilot plant scale.

We design scalable processes and carry them out on a laboratory and pilot plant scale. We transfer these model tests up to the pilot scale (10 m³) and carry out the processes at project partners and customers or at Fraunhofer CBP.

We also use this expertise for suitable whole-cell catalysts. Here we use organisms that we optimize through metabolic analyses and strain development. In this way, the potential of the organisms can be optimally used and adapted to the target process.

Research topics


Enzyme expression in bacteria and yeasts


New technical enzymes for a green chemistry


Optimization of whole-cell catalysts by metabolic pathway engineering

Reference projects

BioConSepT – From plants to plastics

Duration: January 2012 – December 2015

The EU-funded BioConSepT project is investigating the use of second-generation raw materials for the production of biobased polymers. The aim of the project is to deliver processes that convert second-generation raw materials into valuable chemicals.

more info (German)

ECOX – Enzymatic and chemocatalytic oxidation cascades in the gas phase

Duration: November 2012 – April 2017

The joint project ECOX deals with the establishment of an enzymatic-chemocatalytic process for the material use of methane from biogas. The aim is to combine chemical and enzymatic process steps in such a way that methane can be converted as efficiently as possible into methanol and formic acid.

more info (German)

ECOX2 – Enzymatic and chemocatalytic oxidation cascades in the gas phase (2) – Phenol from biogas

Duration: July 2017 – June 2020

In the ECOX2 joint project Fraunhofer IGB aims at the development of a combined chemocatalytic-biotechnical process for the production of the platform chemical phenol from methane, generated as main biogas component during anaerobic digestion processes. ECOX2 builds on the know-how of the ECOX project where basic procedures for the conversion of gaseous substrates have been developed and methane could successfully be converted to methanol and formic acid by combining chemocatalytic with enzymatic processes.

more info

Innozym – Efficient production of technical enzymes

Duration: March 2009 – June 2013

The aim of the "Innozym" joint project is to develop efficient, recombinant expression systems and processes for the production of technical enzymes and the production and purification of enzymes up to a scale of 10 m3. Suitable production strains are to be developed and optimized using bioprocess technology.

more info (German)

Lignoplast – Functionalized lignin degradation molecules as platform chemicals for the production of adhesives, paints, polyurethanes and epoxides

Duration: July 2013 – December 2016

Focus of the project is developing lignin as a source of raw materials for aromatic synthesis components. The required aromatic compounds are obtained by means of hydrolytic degradation of the macromolecular lignins and then functionalized chemically and enzymatically to make adhesives, paints, polyurethanes and epoxides.

more info (German)