Biorefinery, Bioenergy & Bioeconomy

The efficient use of biomass is an essential requirement for the "bioeconomy" envisaged by society and politics. In this economy, a large part of our daily demand for products and energy is to be met from renewable instead of fossil resources. The aim is to ensure a sustainable food supply, reduce emissions and conserve resources. However, in view of a steadily growing population and the finite nature of available agricultural land, the demand for biomass as a resource is increasing in all fields of use. Biorefineries are considered to be a possible solution to this conflict. The term biorefineries thereby refers to concepts that, analogous to fossil refineries, convert biomass into a variety of different products with minimal energy and resource input so that it can be utilized as completely as possible.

Against this background, the working group is identifying the most efficient possible utilization options for renewable raw materials and production residues. The research areas are diverse and include both the development and evaluation of efficient processes for material recycling (e.g. separation of recyclable materials and generation of higher-value intermediate products) and the further development and optimization of energetic processes (e.g. reduction of harmful emissions during incineration, pre-treatment to increase anaerobic degradability for more efficient biogas generation). The evaluation of the investigated concepts is based on technical (process integration, efficiency increase), economic (higher value products, cost minimization) and ecological (minimization of greenhouse gas and other emissions) criteria. The development and optimization of appropriate processes is initially carried out successively with the aid of experimental investigations (e.g. maximization of biogas yield, separation of proteins, nutrients or lignin from residual material streams). A variety of analytical methods and equipment are available for this purpose. Alternatively or in parallel to the experimental investigations, the respective processes can also be modeled in order to evaluate them in the context of an integrated biorefinery.

Current projects
Further research topics
  • Reduction of pollutant emissions from the combustion of biogenic solid fuels by additives
  • Recovery of prebiotic carbohydrates from agricultural residues
  • Protein recovery from bioethanol production residues

An overview of the currently available theses at the IUE can be found here.