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Biotech as a driving force for environmental technology, renewable energy and sustainability

As a classical cross-sectional technology, biotechnology has huge potential to develop sustainable innovations in these areas. BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH is planning to focus more and more on tapping this potential to make it useable in the areas of environmental protection and regenerative energy as well as in the cleantech sector.

© iStockPhoto/jaroslav74

Environmental protection and the use of regenerative energy sources are one of the major challenges of our time.

In the field of environmental protection, biotechnology combines notably the knowledge from bioprocess technology, applied microbiology and the applied engineering sciences. "Environmental biotechnology" stems from the well-established discipline of biotechnology that has become an integral part of modern environmental protection. Whether in the field of wastewater purification, land reclamation, waste recycling or exhaust air purification - biotechnological methods have an important part to play. In the future, environmental biotechnology is expected to become increasingly efficient as modern technologies improve the processes. This particularly concerns certain developments in molecular and systems biology that are currently close to breakthrough.

Bioenergy - the energetic use of biomass - has traditionally been the most important renewable energy. At present, bioenergy provides more than 70 per cent of all renewable energies. Sustainable production and the efficient transformation of biomass into usable energy carriers are considered to be the main areas of potential for biotechnological innovations and increases in energy yield. 

There are great expectations for the use of algae for the production of biomass. Algae are one of the most rapidly reproducing organisms on earth and require mainly CO2 and sunlight for growth. They can be cultivated in bioreactors on non-arable areas, and are thus a potential way out of the tank-plate dilemma. In order to make the algal fixation of CO2 and the resulting production of biomass more economic, it will in future not only be pivotal to utilise the biomass itself, but also to produce value-added consumer end-products with a higher initial purchase price than non-biobased products.

Industrial/white biotechnology is focused on the manufacture of products using biotechnological methods. BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg also provides support in this area. An example of BIOPRO's commitment in this area is the Biopolymers/Biomaterials Cluster, which was established in 2006 to focus on a partial aspect of industrial biotechnology. The Biopolymers/Biomaterials Cluster is one of five clusters that won the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) BioIndustry 2021 high-tech strategy and was granted over 10 million euros in funding for the period between 2007 and 2012. The objective of the cluster is to contribute to the German government's effort to move towards a biobased economy by laying the foundations for a structural change from chemical production processes to biobased processes involving the use of microorganisms, enzymes and other production systems. Potential products include materials produced from plant-based raw materials, biopolymers as an alternative to oil-based plastics and environmentally friendly chemicals.

BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg is due to put in place measures to boost biotechnological innovation power in the cleantech sector. Besides clearly communicating the potential of biotechnology, BIOPRO has also put in place the SYNPRO business development measure to bring together players from different industries.

 

Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/articles/pm/biotech-as-a-driving-force-for-environmental-technology-renewable-energy-and-sustainability/