Plants are often used for one particular purpose only. However, walnut trees have much more to offer than just delicious nuts. The AlpBioEco project is studying the potential of walnut trees for the bioeconomy and how the potential can be exploited commercially. The international team of researchers is also focusing on apples and herbs.
In 2018, Germans consumed 235 chicken eggs per head. While egg white and egg yolks are processed into cakes, pasta or scrambled eggs, the shell predominantly ends up as organic waste. This despite the fact that eggshells are complex composites of lime and protein fibres. “It has repeatedly been shown over recent years that natural products are excellently suited for energy storage,” explains Professor Maximilian Fichtner from the Helmholtz Institute Ulm, a facility that comes under the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe.
Miscanthus and hemp are biomass plants that can be used as raw materials for a wide range of products and can be grown on land areas that are currently underutilised. A European consortium led by the University of Hohenheim in Baden-Württemberg has started a five-year project to demonstrate the economic potential of these plants.
The European Union's Horizon 2020 project MAGIC has reached a milestone by uploading a beta version of its Decision Support System for farmers and end users, showing marginal land and an overview of industrial crops suitable to be grown on this land.
In cooperation with the research unit of the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW), KIT researchers have successfully built a pilot plant in which biogas produced by fermenting residual organic materials can be upgraded to synthetic methane (synthetic SNG). Biobased methane is not only a sustainable energy source for the heating and transport sectors, but also opens up new opportunities for temporary storage of renewable energies.
In a research project, the Fraunhofer Institute for manufacturing engineering and automation (IPA) and the company Tecnaro and d dealt with orthoses and prostheses made of bio-based materials. You developed suitable organic polymer compounds, it produced prototypes and tested them. A bio-based knee prosthesis successfully was the constant load test ISO 10328, also turned out to be very promising 3D printing of prostheses with organic materials.
Plastic waste takes years to decompose and pollutes the environment. Nevertheless, plastics are an indispensable part of everyday life. It is therefore all the more important to find a meaningful alternative that is sustainable, environmentally friendly and has better properties and more functionality than conventional plastics. In addition, such an alternative should not be dependent in any way on fossil resources. Bioplastics are one potential solution.
For many decades, glyphosate has been a common component of agricultural pesticides worldwide, although it is a controversial herbicide that may be harmful for humans, animals and the environment. The good news is that a more sustainable alternative is now in sight: researchers from the University of Tübingen have discovered a sugar molecule called 7-deoxy-sedoheptulose (7dSh). 7dSh inhibits the growth of plants and microorganisms, but appears to be completely harmless to human cells. Long-term studies are now being undertaken to substantiate this finding.
Algae are frugal organisms. They require only light, water, minerals and carbon dioxide to be able to produce biomass. These properties will now be exploited economically in a two-year research project. Dr. Stefan Sebök from the University of Hamburg plans to study the holistic utilisation of degradation products of a biogas plant in Wallerstädten by linking them to land-based algae cultivation.
National and international policy papers emphasize the role of the education sector in the transition into a bioeconomy. On the practical level, various actors are working on programmes to prepare professionals for future challenges. The University of Hohenheim, for example, offers a bioeconomy master's programme, further education projects for skilled workers and is one of the universities that have laid the cornerstone for the “European Bioeconomy University” consortium.
Carbon fibre is increasingly found in airplanes, cars and wind turbines. Carbon fibre is still made from oil and relatively expensive. However, this is soon to change. Researchers from the German Institutes of Textile and Fibre Research in Denkendorf (DITF) are working on the development of cost-effective carbon fibre made of lignin, a by-product of papermaking.
Baden-Württemberg is known for innovation in textiles and for playing a decisive role in the development of sustainable textiles for the future both in the clothing and the booming technical textile sectors. Companies and research institutes are focused on making the entire textile value chain from raw materials, production and useful life to disposal more sustainable than ever before.
Wood pulp as well as hemp and flax are renewable raw materials that can be processed into fibres of a new performance class using innovative technologies. They are environmentally friendly and help to solve waste problems. Products and processes for these fibres of the future are being developed at the DITF Denkendorf. They are suitable for textile and technical applications.
Chemists and microbiologists at Tübingen University discover sugar molecule that inhibits the growth of plants and microorganisms and is harmless to human cells ‒ An alternative to controversial glyphosate?
Industry has been using enzymes for over a hundred years. While it initially had to content itself with natural enzymes, it is now increasingly possible to design tailor-made biocatalysts with specific properties. The start-up company candidum GmbH from Stuttgart promises to achieve this faster than ever before - mostly thanks to accelerated virtual screening.
In Germany, around 1,500 tonnes of antibiotics per year are administered to humans and animals. As a result, more and more bacteria are developing resistance to common antibiotics, which can make the treatment of bacterial infections very difficult. As part of HyReKA, a cooperative project funded by the BMBF, scientists led by Professor Thomas Schwartz from the KIT are investigating how antibiotic-resistant pathogens spread and how they can be prevented from doing so.
An alliance of global companies from the plastics and consumer goods value chain today launched a new organization to advance solutions to eliminate plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean.
In the new gene technology report, the interdisciplinary working group of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW) takes stock of gene technology developments in Germany during the past few decades, and discusses the societal, legal and ethical challenges associated with these technologies in the future. The report is highly topical due to the controversy surrounding the ruling of the European Court of Justice on CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing and reports that the first children whose DNA has been altered using gene editing have been born in China.
This is the leitmotif of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, which was founded in 2003. 15 years is a good time to pause for a moment and take a look at BIOPRO’s work and achievements. As a central point of contact and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Baden-Württemberg government whose main objective is to promote networking, BIOPRO knows only too well that progress is not made alone, but in collaboration with others. On November 21, 2018, an industry and network meeting was held in the StadtPalais in Stuttgart.
The sun’s energy is harvested on two levels in agrophotovoltaic systems where food can be grown beneath solar collectors. Food or fuel? Potatoes or electricity? In addition to growing energy crops for biofuel and biogas production, open space solar plants also compete with food production when it comes to land use. Agrophotovoltaics (APV), i.e. the dual use of arable land, can mitigate the conflicting interests of agriculture and open space PV systems. Solar panels collect solar energy directly above the crop fields that farmers plough with their tractors. APV-RESOLA is a pilot project aimed at investigating the efficiency of this dual use.
The Second Global Bioeconomy Summit, held in Berlin in April 2018, confirmed the essential role of modern genetic engineering methods such as genome editing in producing heat- and drought-tolerant crops adapted to the changing climate. Such methods are clearly required to help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the restrictive decision taken by the European Court of Justice in July 2018, the German Ministry of Education and Research will continue promoting the further development of genome-editing technologies for use in crop breeding.
Europe’s leading universities in the field of the bioeconomy are looking to further intensify their existing cooperation to develop common problem-solving approaches for society’s most urgent challenges.
Think Tank for Europe: The six leading European universities in the field of the bioeconomy are planning to join forces in research, teaching/education, and innovation in this subject area. Following the initiative of the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart (Germany), they have laid the cornerstone for the “European Bioeconomy University” consortium - so that the European economy can become more resource-efficient, sustainable, competitive, and based on a circular mindset.