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Institute of

WF Forestry


Lignocellulose-Biorefinery II

Involved Institutes HF Institute of Wood Research

"Lignocellulose-Biorefinery" - Decomposition of lignocellulosic raw materials and full material utilization of the components (Phase 2)

More than 85 % of raw materials in the chemical industry are derived from fossil sources (stand 2011). About 90 % of all raw materials used for chemical applications are currently imported. Hence, it is desirable from an economical as well as from a societal point of view, to extend the raw material base with local and renewable resources. Lignocellulosic plants, such as straw, miscanthus and woody biomass are in particular applicable in this case. We conduct research on how sustainability is effected, when base materials for the chemical industry are produced from beech wood and compare the biorefinery process chain with conventional production processes.

Background and Objective

A lignocellulose-biorefinery produces bulk chemicals from lignocellulosic feedstock. Processing industries convert these to biobased products. For the first time, all main components of the primary material - cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin - can be used equally. They can be processed to intermediates as well as to adhesive agents and filling material for derived timber products and plastic materials. For the sustainablity assessment we developed and applied a new method, which allowed us to evaluate the process chain of a lignocellulose biorefinery for non-energetic products. Alternative fossil and biobased production processes for phenol and sugar were used as references for the beechwood-based process chain of the biorefinery.


Since no suitable method for assessment was available, we developed an innovative approach within the project time span. With the so-called "Logical Framework Approach to Sustainablity Assessment (LOFASA)" we were able to derive and analyze sustainabilty indicators in a logic and transparent way.

Data and Methods

To evaluate the relative effects of the biorefinery on sustainability, we determined 26 indicators. The evaluation was based on material flows, databases, expert views and literature. Ten out of twelve quantitative indicators were rated with positive relative sustainability effects. As a result of the available information we rated four out of nine qualitative indicatotrs neutral, three positive and one negative. For evaluation of the remaining five indicators there was no sufficient data from the pilot plant available at the end of the project phase.

Our Research Questions

Will a lignocellose-biorefinery process chain generate positive sustainability effects compared to convetional production processes?


The sustainability assessment showed, that the innovative biorefinery process chain can be a sustainable option to substitute fossil and biogenic raw materials for the chemical industry. The final report is currently being reviewed by the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe (FNR), a soon publication date is expected.

The positive sustainability effects of the biorefinery, in comparison to the fossil and biogenic reference, were particularly high for ecological indicators. The ecological indicators and sustainability themes have also been weighted of highest importance for the sustainability of the biorefinery by the project consortium. Due to incomplete data the final results should be interpreted under reserve. On the basis of the evaluated indicators so far, the lignocellulose biorefinery process chain is rated positively from a sustainability point of view.

Links and Downloads


Dr. Jörg Schweinle

+49 40 739 62 305
+49 40 739 62 305

Ehemalige Thünen Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter

  • Dr. Eva Meier

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Universität Hamburg
    (Hamburg, Deutschland)
  • Bayer Technology Services
    (Leverkusen, Deutschland)
  • Tecnaro GmbH
    (Ilsfeld-Auenstein, Deutschland)
  • Dynea Erkner GmbH
    (Erkner, Deutschland)
  • EVONIK Degussa GmbH
    (Marl, Deutschland)
  • Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
    (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Deutschland)
  • Dechema e.V.
    (Frankfurt, Deutschland)

Funding Body

  • Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR)
    (national, öffentlich)


5.2010 - 9.2013

More Information

Project funding number: 22019109
Funding program: FNR
Project status: finished

List of Publications

  1. 0

    Engel M, Fliedner E, Fröhling M, Haase M, Laure S, Meier E, Schweinle J, Susanto A, Ziegler L (2014) Arbeitspaket 4: Ökonomische, ökologische und soziale Bewertung (TI-WF, KIT-IIP, BTS, Evonik, Dynea, Tecnaro). In: "Lignocellulose-Bioraffinerie" : Aufschluss lignocellulosehaltiger Rohstoffe und vollständige stoffliche Nutzung der Komponenten (Phase 2) ; Gemeinsamer Abschlussbericht zu den wissenschaftlich-technischen Ergebnissen aller Teilvorhaben der Partner ; Projektzeitpunkt: 1.5.2010 bis 31.3.2014, Berichtszeitraum: 1.5.2010 bis 31.3.2014. Frankfurt a M: DECHEMA, pp 325-397

  2. 1

    Meier E (2014) Nachhaltigkeitsbewertung - Logical Framework-Ansatz zur kontextbezogenen Operationalisierung von Nachhaltigkeit auf Basis gesellschaftlicher Nachhaltigkeitskonzepte. Hamburg: Univ Hamburg, Fachber Biologie, 263 p, Hamburg, Univ, Diss, 2014

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