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.
Jointly organised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the recent Green Economy conference focused on how a sustainable bioeconomy can contribute to creating an environmentally friendly future. The conference participants agreed that immediate action was needed. Research programmes have been put in place to explore the opportunities, risks and general conditions associated with the establishment of a green economy, to give recommendations for action, and recommendations on how to deal with the challenges of climate change and the scarcity of energy and resources.
The report Future Bioenergy and Sustainable Land Use is the first integrated study of bioenergy to explore the issue in the context of global environmental and development policy. It shows that the global sustainable potential for producing energy from biomass is significant.
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.
At the Global Bioeconomy Summit held in Berlin in November 2015, international agendas were adopted that aim to integrate the bioeconomy as part of the development of a sustainable global economy and the fight against man-made global warming. The Summit also called for halting the further deterioration of planetary environmental processes to ensure a sustainable future.
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.
Many chemicals in lubricants and washing powder are produced from fossil fuel. However, as fossil fuel is limited and reserves are slowly but surely running out, finding suitable substitutes is essential. This is the only way to ensure that much needed working materials continue to be available in the future. Sandra Heß from the University of Konstanz is involved in an interdisciplinary PhD project that explores the production of plastics, lubricants and surfactants from algal oil.
The two GlobalFlow GmbH managing directors, Nadine Antic and Seda Erkus, only recently completed their energy and resource management and environmental technology studies and immediately set out to establish their own company. GlobalFlow GmbH, which is based in Reutlingen, offers comprehensive services related to the conservation of resources and materials management.
At a time when energy crops are competing with food crops for agricultural land, the company n-bio GmbH is doing something positive by turning what is considered waste into bioenergy. This not only reduces waste disposal costs, but also protects the environment. The technically highly sophisticated waste fermentation plants manufactured by n-bio GmbH automatically remove packaging residues and are also able to cope with pralines. The company’s technology also ensures that fermentation residues remain pathogen-free so that they can be used as fertilizers. By applying the “Danish” principle the company’s managing director Michael Schuster is able to produce biogas whilst keeping energy consumption relatively low.
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.
Experts from various industries met in Stuttgart on 15th June 2016 to kick off the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Marketing, Communication, Ecobalance and Sustainability, which is the second of four SIGs that will be established under the auspices of the ”Akteursplattform Bioökonomie Baden-Württemberg”.
In addition to sunlight water and wind biogas is a regenerative source of energy that contributes to saving fossil resources. Germany is home to around 7100 biogas plants including 796 as of 2011 in Baden-Württemberg. In 2010 these facilities produced 11 per cent of the electricity generated from renewables in Germany. Energy-rich methane is the major constituent of biogas and is produced when organic compounds are broken down by bacteria in the absence of oxygen.
By 2050 the global population is set to reach 9 billion people and worldwide demand for food, feed and fibre is forecast to increase by 70%. To thrive in that context, economies will need to use natural resources in a far more efficient manner. The way we consume and produce will be key to Europe's success or failure in this process. This is why the Commission intends to revise the EU's Consumption and Production policies and has launched a public consultation that will remain open until 3 April.
Insects have an external skeleton composed mainly of chitin. Chitin is a long-chain polysaccharide with functional groups that make it a valuable biopolymer for a broad range of applications. Chitin is an almost inexhaustible resource, as it is constantly produced in huge quantities throughout nature. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) and six cooperation partners are working on developing a biotechnological method for making insect chitin usable for coating textiles.
Biotensidon GmbH is on the up. Rhapynal is about to be placed on the market. The company is involved in a 100-million-euro joint venture and was nominated for the German Next Economy Award in 2016. Rhapynal has three components and offers virtually unlimited possibilities for application in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and many other sectors.
Hanover-based well Ausstellungssystem GmbH sells environmentally-friendly wooden materials for furniture and booth construction, interior and product design and promotes its new wooden sheeting kraftplex® for use in high-tech innovations. Wellboard, the wooden composite in waves, is already being used in theatres, shop windows and museums.
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.
In the future the Swiss company MYKOTOWN GREENTECH AG will focus on sustainably produced fuels and regenerative energies. The company is thus continuing its journey towards the production of biological and ecological plants using mycorrhizal fungi as well as tapping new fields of business.
In view of the changing climate and the finiteness of fossil resources, research into renewable energies is gaining in importance. One of the things that researchers have been looking into for quite some time is different possibilities to use organic wastewater compounds as sustainable energy sources. Carsten Meyer from the University of Stuttgart works on the generation of alternative energy sources. Together with his team of researchers, Meyer was involved in a recently finished project that looked into the biological production of hydrogen from wastewater and sewage sludge.
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.
The 8th European Congress of Chemical Engineering and 1st European Congress of Applied Biotechnology closed on Thursday in Berlin on an upbeat note. For four days, about 3,000 scientists from industry and academia discussed topics from research and practical application. Especially the lectures on downstream processing of biotechnological products were strongly frequented; sessions on energy storage, future thinking in innovation and process intensification were also received with great interest.
In view of dwindling reserves of fossil resources, industry is showing growing interest in bioplastics. However, compared to conventional high-performance plastics, these have their limitations – among other things in terms of stability and strength. In cooperation with Tecnaro, Henkel has now succeeded in developing new high-performance polyamide additives based on renewable raw materials that can significantly improve the performance of bioplastics.
In order to achieve the sought-after shift towards sustainable regenerative energy supply, researchers around the world are focusing on the conversion of solar energy into hydrogen and carbon compounds using artificial chemical systems. They aim to achieve much more efficient photosynthesis than plants have. Other scenarios foresee improving the energy balance of photosynthesis by modifying the photosynthesis system.
Microalgae have played an important role as animal feed or food supplements for decades. They can also produce complex chemical compounds. This so-called material use of microalgae is already a major economic sector. However, when it comes to algal biotechnology, they are almost universally seen as just energy sources.
Algae are rich in valuable substances and can be grown easily, which makes them promising candidates for the sustainable production of raw materials. The work done by Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecking at the University of Konstanz in cooperation with plant physiologist Prof. Dr. Peter Kroth, confirms this. The two scientists have developed a method to transform algae oil into high-quality chemical raw materials which can, amongst other things, be used for the production of polymers. This opens up new possibilities for the use of algae as a raw material source beyond just a substitute for crude oil.