Wood from local forests is an important resource for the bioeconomy. However at present, a large amount of wood is used as fuel for energy production. Greater forest diversity and new wood-based materials have the potential to make the timber industry more sustainable. The bioeconomy can contribute to this by promoting the utilisation of deciduous trees.
Biogas plants have become a familiar sight in Baden-Württemberg's rural areas. It might therefore be expected that broad experience exists in the comprehensive evaluation of this type of energy generation from renewable resources or organic materials. However, scientists draw a very differentiated picture. It is difficult to make any generalisations, although the analysis of individual facets can provide further help.
Along with cellulose, lignin is one of the most common organic compounds on earth. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT are working on optimising the yield of aromatic platform chemicals using innovative sustainable processes for the extraction and fractionation of lignin. The ultimate goal is to provide an alternative to petroleum in the pharmaceutical, plastics and food industries.
Petroleum is the lifeblood of the chemical industry. It is the raw material for basic chemicals and is used to produce a tremendous wealth of products. Growing demand and dwindling resources mean that the chemical industry is increasingly focusing on renewable resources. Lignin is a wood component that is proving to be a particularly promising resource. It is currently almost exclusively used for generating energy, although it could also be used for many other purposes. In Baden-Württemberg, a research consortium is specifically focused on exploring the potential of this wood component.