Biomass is the main resource of the bioeconomy. However, biomass has a low energy density and also needs to be used decentrally where it grows. A project group involving researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart and other institutions in Europe is addressing these challenges and demonstrating how biomass from rural areas can be made suitable for industrial processes.
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.
The discussion relating to bioeconomy and biobased economy is broadening. But what do these terms actually mean? The “View on Biobased Economy – Bioeconomy” presentation theme at ACHEMA 2012 in Frankfurt has provided some answers. Several exhibitors presented industrial biotechnology product scenarios and provided information about current funding programmes and future funding calls.
The Interreg Danube Translational Programme’s ”DanuBioValNet” project aims to establish new biobased value chains. Under the leadership of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, 17 partners from the Danube region met on 1st January 2017 to pave the ground for transnational collaboration in the biobased industry. Regional cluster organisations are expected to drive the change from a fossil fuel-based industry to a biobased industry forward and will be given intensive training to help them initiate transnational networking in this sector.
The Distillery for Research and Training at the University of Hohenheim has been reopened after the completion of renovation work costing around 1.2 million euros. The distillery is now equipped with a computer-operated process-control system and modern sensors, all state-of-the-art technology for the fermentation processes at Hohenheim. The new distillery pilot plant has a fermentation room for work with genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified yeasts can be tested for their suitability for the production of bioethanol from new raw materials.
The efficient recycling of biowaste makes an enormous contribution to the bioeconomy and climate protection. Researchers in the Department of Waste Management and Emissions headed up by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Kranert at the Institute for Sanitary Engineering, Water Quality and Solid Waste Management (ISWA) at the University of Stuttgart, are exploring the optimisation potential of biowaste recovery.
Automated steering systems, data-driven targeted application of fertilisers and pesticides, field robots and drones, soil analysis sensors, autonomous driving - digitisation is advancing in agriculture as elsewhere. The question asked by farmers and by society in general is whether the increasing adoption of digital technologies in agriculture is a curse or a blessing.
The results of the feasibility studies funded under the Idea Competition in Biotechnology and Medical Technology were presented in the Haus der Wirtschaft in Stuttgart between 16th and 18th January 2012. Ten of the 42 project ideas were recommended for further funding.
Dr. Frank Brändle and Dr. Marco Thines managing directors of PathoScan GbR in Hohenheim have developed a PCR-based test system which allows the detection of fungi and bacteria in seed at very early stages. The test system will be patented in the near future.
The use of sustainable raw materials is the focus of the new research programme bio-economy for which the Baden-Württemberg State Government is making 13 million Euros available. Of the total of 45 research projects recommended for funding 11 projects already approved are established at seven institutes at the University of Stuttgart these have a volume of two million Euros.
Biomass can be carbonised and converted into certified carbon using a technology called “carbotwin”, which enables simultaneous production of energy. The carbon is thus stored in the end products and does not enter the atmosphere as CO2. Carbonauten, a start-up company from the Baden-Württemberg town of Giengen, shows that the process is not only environmentally friendly, but also economically viable.
Trees of the genus Symplocos in the Indonesian mountain rainforest store so much aluminium in their leaves that it can be used for dyeing textiles. A research project at the University of Ulm aims to preserve the traditional dyeing methods of Indonesian weavers, protect these rare trees and increase our knowledge of aluminium-accumulating plants.
The goal of the Interreg Alpine Space project "AlpLinkBioEco" is to establish better connections between Alpine regions and to focus more on biobased and circular value chains. BIOPRO is working to achieve this goal as part of a consortium involving 13 other European partners from France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia.
Biodiversity is essential for functioning, stable ecosystems and the wellbeing of the human race. Despite conventions, resolutions and action plans for the protection of biological diversity at all political levels, the decline of species diversity is increasing dramatically all over the world, including Germany. Targeted projects and funding measures have been put in place with the objective of stopping this deadly trend.
The term nanotechnology is known by well over 50 of Germans especially since the lotus effect hit the headlines in the late 1990s. Around the turn of the millennium bio was inserted between nano and technology and nanobiotechnology has since taken up more and more room in the headlines as well as requiring major financial investment. What is nanobiotechnology what is the difference between nanotechnology and nanobiotechnology and where and what nanobiotechnological research is being carried out in Germany and more particularly in Baden-Württemberg and which applications is it aimed at?
Biogas has become an alternative and sustainable energy resource. In 2013, the 7,850 biogas plants in Germany – including 858 in Baden-Württemberg – produced enough biogas to cover around seven percent of Germany’s total electricity needs. Martin Falger, managing director of wusoa GmbH in Stuttgart, explained in an interview with Sanja Fessl (BIOPRO) why he believes that small-scale biogas plants have a promising future. They expand the biogas plant spectrum by enabling regions that do not have enough biomass to operate large biogas plants to benefit from this energy resource. Livestock farms in these regions also benefit from the presence of the small-scale plants.
It is rather reassuring to know that fossil energy carriers can be replaced by renewable ones. However, the difficulties are always in the details. For example with regard to the storage capacity of electricity produced with sun and wind; or with regard to the use of biomass to produce natural gas substitutes. The Stuttgart-based Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) has a number of solutions up its sleeve for overcoming such difficulties. The ZSW researchers are able to produce high-quality natural gas substitutes from wood and electrical power. In addition, the centre has just set a world record in the efficiency of thin-film solar cells.
Biogas plants have become well-known sights throughout Germany and are usually built according to standardised concepts. The biogas plant that is currently being constructed in the village of Zermatt below the Matterhorn presented the GICON Großmann Ingenieur Consult GmbH planners with a particular challenge. The geographical and climatic conditions of the area and seasonal waste variations due to seasonally fluctuating tourist numbers required them to come up with an individualised solution.
Microbial cells long gave researchers the impression that they were in a state of complete disorder. Prof. Dr. Peter Graumann from the University of Freiburg investigates cell division in bacteria and knows that even microbes are highly organised.
Storage solutions will be very much in demand as renewables account for a growing share of electricity in the grid. One option – converting fluctuating green electricity into chemical energy carriers or raw materials – looks particularly promising. Scientists at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) want to put power-to-X processes into action with a two-pronged strategy.
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. APV-RESOLA is a pilot project aimed at investigating the efficiency of this dual use.
Agroforestry systems can provide effective protection against soil erosion caused by wind and water. They can also contribute to stabilising and improving the yield of annual plants. In addition, strips in fields planted with shrubs and trees form living spaces and areas to which plants and animals can retreat. In the AUFWERTEN innovation group, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO is working with other German research institutions and organisations to set up agroforestry systems in Germany.
As in previous years, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH participated in this year’s Hannover Messe, the world’s biggest industrial fair. With the USA as partner country and the lead theme ”Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions”, the 2016 trade fair attracted more than 190,000 visitors from around the world. From 25th to 29th April, visitors to hall 2 were able to discover biobased products and experience an economy that runs without fossil resources.