Bioprocess Engineering

The use of renewable raw materials and biogenic residues in sustainable production processes offers alternative solutions for chemistry based on fossil raw materials. Particular importance is attached to white/industrial biotechnology, which produces platform and fine chemicals as well as fuels using biotechnological or combined processes. Biogenic raw materials such as lignocellulose or vegetable oils are preferred in such biorefinery concepts in order to obtain environmentally compatible products.

Research in the field of industrial, white biotechnology at Fraunhofer IGB is performed in an interdisciplinary manner. The activities of the Industrial Biotechnology Group headed by Dr. Susanne Zibek focus on establishing, optimizing and upscaling biotransformation processes in which raw materials are transformed into usable products either with the aid of microorganisms or enzymes. We combine the development of transformation processes on a laboratory scale and the optimization of the biocatalysts themselves with the transfer of the processes to larger scales. In addition, we can increase the scale up to the pilot scale either at our customers' and project partners' facilities or at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP.

With our interdisciplinary orientation in biology, chemistry and process engineering, we cover the entire process chain and create the prerequisites for the scalability of our processes already at the laboratory scale. Cooperation with a wide variety of project partners from industry enables us to develop ecologically and economically sensible, sustainable future technologies.

Research areas


Enzyme screening and production of biocatalysts

We are concerned with the screening for new, industrially usable enzymes and the optimized recombinant production of these enzymes. Alternatively, we use microorganisms as biocatalysts, which we isolate from various sources or optimize for the desired process with the help of metabolic analyses.


Fermentative production of chemicals and biosurfactants

For the production of basic chemicals and biosurfactants, we establish fermentation processes and carry out model tests for scale-up in scale down fermenters. To increase space-time yields, we optimize biomass and product formation, e.g. by varying process operation and developing customized culture media.


Establishment and scale-up of technical enzyme processes

Fraunhofer IGB develops enzyme conversion processes from laboratory to pilot plant scale and designs the scale-up of these processes. Variable stirring reactors and continuous fixed-bed reactors are used. The highly scaled processes can be implemented either at Fraunhofer CBP or at project partners and customers.


Upstream processing of renewable raw materials and biogenic residues

We use shrimp and insect chitin, lignocellulose, dandelion roots and agricultural residues to produce valuable intermediates such as chitosan, sugar monomers, rubber and phosphate. Thus, renewable raw materials and waste materials are utilized with sustainable added value.