A bioeconomy is the introduction of a biobased economy and the promise of sustainably manufactured goods. The head of the Institute of Forest Utilisation at the University of Freiburg Prof. Dr. Gero Becker examines the efficiency and sustainability of the provision of timber and forestry products and focusses on the issue as to how wood residues can be industrially recycled.
Fibres can be used to disintegrate tablets, bind together the ingredients in a formulation and coat substrates. The company J. RETTENMAIER & SÖHNE GmbH+Co.KG has been offering plant fibres, pulp and cellulose for a broad range of applications since 1878. The company now also uses the natural fibres for the fabrication of bioplastics in an effort to contribute to sustainability.
Marvel GmbH, based in Bad Teinach, has set itself the goal of combining innovative materials with sophisticated design and where safety, fire protection and acoustic properties go hand in hand with attractiveness, high-quality design and sustainability. The company uses its own innovative biomaterial called “Marvel Bioresin”.
The German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) has led to a considerable increase in the use of biogas in Germany. However, increasing biogas production must make ecological sense and not generate conflict with the sustainability objectives of environmental conservation schemes. There must therefore be a careful consideration of the overall conditions. An analysis of the ecological impact of the generation and use of biogas in Germany taking into account legal and economic aspects was coordinated by ifeu - Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg and recommendations were given to policy makers.
All washing agents and household detergents contain surface-active agents that bind and dissolve dirt. Up until now these agents have been produced from organic compounds extracted from mineral oil. Due to the ongoing debate on sustainability more and more manufacturers are focusing on biological alternatives. The research group led by Dr. Rudolf Hausmann at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT is investigating the conditions under which microorganisms produce so-called biological surfactants. These substances are as effective as their synthetic counterparts and they are also biologically degradable.
The Institute of Biological Process Engineering (IBV) at the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences has been focusing on sustainable products and methods modelled on nature for 25 years. The institute will celebrate its 25th anniversary on the university campus at the end of the 2013 summer semester.
The conversion of undeveloped land into residential areas and roads in Baden-Württemberg has in fact fallen by fifty percent in the past ten years, but there is still a long way to go before land management becomes sustainable. Detailed studies on the changing conditions of land use are necessary in order to develop practical concepts for environmentally compatible planning.
Alternative engines and fuels for cars of the future still lack technical maturity and are not yet competitive. In the short to medium term, the only way to replace fossil fuel will be other fossil fuels – compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Biodiesel and ethanol are and will remain for the foreseeable future the only renewable resource alternatives to fossil fuel. As is the case for any other technology, the development of second-generation (2G) biogenic fuels requires a lot of time, money and know-how.
At talks given at the recent Biotechnology Days in Berlin representatives of a number of different BMBF-funded clusters showed that numerous strategies to enable the industrial production of biopolymers and biomaterials from resources other than oil are now available.
Mannheim-based CropEnergies AG operates Europes largest bioethanol facility located in the town of Zeitz. The company is also erecting a large-scale facility for liquefying purifying and recycling biogenic carbon dioxide at the same site. The new plant will have an annual capacity of 100000 t of food-grade liquefied CO2.
Renewable energies do not come out of nowhere. The sustainable cultivation of firewood requires land for plantation. The main criticism of the use of land for the production of renewable energies is that the production of renewable resources is in strong opposition to the production of human food. The forestry scientist Janine Fischbach and her colleagues at the University of Freiburg are investigating ways to avoid a plate petrol tank dilemma.
Empa Testmaterials AG focuses on the research and development of test systems and materials that enable biofilm to be successfully removed from washing machines as well as controlling the level of hygiene of individual wash cycles. As a competence centre in washing and cleaning the company specialises in the assessment of washing and cleaning processes in terms of effectiveness energy efficiency damage and hygiene.
Over the last few years the EU has published a number of new guidelines stipulating thresholds for toxicologically relevant substances in food and other products. Some of these thresholds were implemented following a Greenpeace campaign relating to pesticides in food. The Freiburg-based Fachbüro für Toxikologie und nachhaltige Entwicklung Office for Toxicology and Sustainable Development ForCare played a part in the scientific studies behind this campaign.
The aim of the Technofunctional Proteins (TeFuProt) innovation alliance is to develop in an environmentally compatible way new products with high earnings potential by using proteins from agricultural residues. As part of the alliance, the lubricant company FUCHS EUROPE SCHMIERSTOFFE GmbH from Mannheim will add modified rapeseed proteins as non-toxic additives to its product portfolio. The use of proteins from renewable raw materials contributes to the creation of a biobased, sustainable economy.
The International Symposium on Biopolymers was held in Stuttgart between 4th and 7th October 2010. The event organisers also held a special focus day on industrial applications as suggested by BIOPRO. The conclusions drawn from the Industry Day can be summarised as follows methods are becoming increasingly mature production capacities are growing and the price of biobased polymers and bulk chemicals are becoming more attractive. However many developments still need to be taken further and still need to prove their worth.
The German city of Stuttgart purifies 27 million litres of wastewater every hour thus eliminating up to 95 per cent of the organic compounds. Scientists are now trying to find ways to use wastewater treatment plants for purposes other than the purification of wastewater. Besides making the purification of water more effective and complete the scientists are investigating whether fertilisers and hydrogen can be produced during the reclamation process.
The founders of the company IneraTec are developing a chemical reactor that can produce synthetic fuels from a broad range of different gas sources. What is completely new is the size of the reactor: it is no bigger than a desk. The IneraTec founders have found a way to design a compact reactor that fits into a container and only needs be connected to a gas source. At present, the reactor is set up to use methane as a source gas, but it has the potential to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen mixtures into fuels at some point in the future. This, in combination with its decentralised application, gives some idea of the huge potential of the IneraTec reactor.