Biofuel with huge future potential
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is providing total funding for research into biomass utilisation of 50 million euros. Biofuels remain an important research topic – this is more than evident from the current debate on the use of biofuel in Germany. Scientists and engineers will be in great demand over the next few years in order to render such fuels technologically viable and as environmentally friendly as possible.
Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is prioritising the use of biomass for energy under its “Basic Research Energy 2020+” funding programme. As part of this programme, the ministry has set aside 50 million euros for the funding initiative “BioEnergy 2021 – Research for the Utilisation of Biomass”, which will run for up to five years.
“In order for biofuels to be able to make a considerable contribution to the energy supply of the future, research is key,” said State Secretary Thomas Rachel. Teams of researchers from universities, non-university institutions and companies will jointly work on new processes for the conversion of biomass from plant and other biological waste into what are known as second-generation fuels. “These fuels can be used to run cars as well as for the production of electricity and heat,” said Rachel highlighting that, “the production of biofuel from biological waste will not be to the detriment of the cultivation of food. The potential quantities of fuel that can be produced are huge.”
The goal is to optimise already existing technologies for the utilisation of biomass by focusing on specific research and development activities and by combining existing methods (cascade utilisation) and developing new methods for utilising the limited quantities of the raw material biomass as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
Pyrolysis of biomass
Special funding will be available for groups of researchers led by young scientists who intend to develop long-term research projects with completely new approaches for the use of biomass. Research under the BMBF funding initiative will be carried out in close cooperation with already ongoing studies in the research centres of the Helmholtz Society, including for example the Karlsruhe Research Centre where scientists are currently working on a method to produce synthetic fuels with specific properties as well as chemical compounds by pyrolysis or gasification of biomass. The research activities of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) also focus on aspects of agricultural economic and agricultural ecological biomass production.