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Institute of

AT Agricultural Technology

Products from Renewables

In the foreseeable future depleting fossil resources demand a change in the supply of raw materials. In order to bridge the gap from a petrochemical industry to a bio-based economy renewable resources can and are supposed to substitute fossil raw materials.

Renewable materials are the only sustainable source of carbon which can be used for the production of organic chemicals such as detergents, paints and coatings, while heat and electricity supply may be covered by other renewable resources like solar and wind energy. The production of chemicals in the industrial organic chemistry is based mainly on limited fossil raw materials. The development and operation of efficient production processes without or less fossil raw materials, i.e. based on renewable biomass in biorefineries, is an important part of a future bio-economy.

We are investigating the entire value-added chain of the conversion of renewables to biobased products including:

  • Biomass digestion
  • Biotechnical conversion
  • Chemo-catalytic conversion
  • Downstream processing
  • Bio-based polymers and materials
  • Sustainability assessment

 

The material use of renewable resources is a key research focus at our institute and we develop new technologies and biorefinery concepts considering raw materials recycling and cascade utilization. The research is conducted by an interdisciplinary team including agriculturalists, chemists, biologists, biotechnologists and engineers who are working on different research projects along the entire value-added chain. Every step of the value-added chain is characterized and evaluated to specifically improve the utilized technologies and processes related to competitiveness and environmental compatibility. This supports the sustainable production of biobased products and the transition to a bioeconomy in the long term.

Working areas

Biomass digestion

For the production of many bio-based chemicals, the sugars that constitute biomass are essential. The biomass digestion is the first conversion step and provides free sugars for the subsequent processes. We analyze, develop and evaluate methods and processes for the efficient digestion of biomass.

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Biomass digestion

Biotechnical conversion

Biotechnological processes are essential for a sustainable bio-economy in the future. The diverse biocatalysts (like enzymes, bacteria, fungi and algae) are characterized by a high selectivity and mild reaction conditions. This predestines them for an environmental sound conversion of renewable resources to higher value products.

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Biotechnical conversion

Chemo-catalytic conversion

The realization of bio-refineries without chemo-catalytic processes is not feasible. We develop and optimize catalysts and processes to chemo-catalytically convert renewable resources efficiently to bio-based chemicals.

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Chemo-catalytic conversion

Downstream processing

Following the production of bio-based chemicals by chemo-catalytic or biotechnical conversion the products need to be isolated and purified. Without such downstream processing steps no production process can be carried out.

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Downstream processing

Bio-based polymers and materials

Synthetic, usually petroleum-based polymeric compounds and materials significantly contribute to quality of life. We develop and evaluate alternative, bio-based products.

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Bio-based polymers and materials

Sustainability assessment

Bio-based products and their manufacturing processes are often perceived as more environmentally friendly than products produced using non-renewable resources. However, bio-based products are not always produced via environmentally sustainable and/or climate-neutral methods.

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Sustainability assessment

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