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Processes and technologies in the bioeconomy

The state of Baden-Württemberg is characterised by strong economic expertise in the field of plant and mechanical engineering as well as excellent research institutions in the fields of biology, biotechnology, bioprocess engineering and chemistry. These form an excellent basis for a sustainable economy by promoting technology development and innovation for tomorrow’s bioeconomy.

Glossary

  • A Catalyst is a substance which selectively accelerates a specific chemical or biochemical reaction without being consumed by the overall reaction.
  • There are two definitions for the term organism: a) Any biological unit which is capable of reproduction and which is autonomous, i.e. that is able to exist without foreign help (microorganisms, fungi, plants, animals including humans). b) Definition from the Gentechnikgesetz (German Genetic Engineering Law): “Any biological unit which is capable of reproducing or transferring genetic material.“ This definition also includes viruses and viroids. In consequence, any genetic engineering work involving these kinds of particles is regulated by the Genetic Engineering Law.
  • The term metabolism includes the uptake, transport, biochemical conversion and excretion of substances within an organism. These processes are necessary to build up the body mass and to meet the energy demand of the body. The opposed processes of metabolism are called anabolism and catabolism. Effectiveness of several enzymes could be catabol and anabol. Within one biochemical pathway they cannot work in both directions at the same time.

The creation of a biobased economy requires process innovations that enable the efficient utilisation of raw and residual materials. Process innovations in the bioeconomic sense include processes and technologies that use biogenic raw and residual materials as the starting substrate, as well as biobased processes that exploit the metabolic activities of living organisms such as microorganisms, bacteria or algae. In both cases, the goal must be to develop sustainable, flexible and cost-effective processes that can be scaled up quickly to industrial scale.

A huge variety of methods and processes is used in the bioeconomic area. The overall aim is to achieve a coupled and cascading use of biogenic raw material resources and residual materials. The main focus is on simple and combined chemical, physical and biotechnological/-catalytic conversion technologies.

The biorefinery concept is an intelligent and promising solution for replacing oil with biomass as a raw material to produce fuels, power, heat and chemicals. Biorefineries integrate different biomass conversion processes and technologies. The biorefinery approach is based on a holistic utilisation of biomass for producing value-added (intermediate) products. Thus, biorefineries aim for zero-waste biomass utilisation by applying efficient technologies to convert biomass into energy and products.

However, a biorefinery does not necessarily need to combine all process steps in one plant. Depending on the location, even small, modular plants can be the right choice for creating value with biomass. It is important that biomass digestion and conversion processes are resource-tolerant and flexible to take account of different biomass compositions and quantities of waste and thus process different material flows in one process step.

As the situation stands, new and improved technologies and processes are mainly being implemented in pilot and demonstration plants. Further efforts are needed to transfer applications to an industrial scale.

Processes and technologies in the bioeconomy

  • Article - 01-Feb-2016

    Modern agriculture relies on phosphorus in the form of chemical fertilisers to provide plants with vital nutrients. However, huge amounts of this valuable raw material end up in our sewage plants. Two new methods to recover phosphorus from wastewater could potentially contribute to the sustainable use of phosphorus in the not-too-distant future.

  • Article - 21-Dec-2015

    Pigs, cattle and poultry produce around 1,800 million tons of manure in Europe every year. Farmers provide crops with nutrients by spreading manure on their fields. But what can be done with manure when there are not enough fields to use it on? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) and the University of Hohenheim have joined forces with 13 partners from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom in the EU project BioEcoSIM that aims to turn valuable manure constituents into soil-improving products.

  • Article - 28-Sep-2015

    Microalgae are among the most promising sources of sustainable, carbon-neutral biofuels for the future. They are already being used as feedstock for producing biogas, biodiesel, bioethanol and kerosene, but the associated production methods consume a great deal of energy and are rather costly. Dr. Nikolaos Boukis from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is working on the development of a sophisticated, thermochemical process with an energy balance that promises to improve the situation.

Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/bw/definition/processes-and-technologies-in-the-bioeconomy/?block_152213size=3&%3Bblock_152213from=30&block_152213from=30