Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bio2 Approach

The FocusLab Bio2 is subdivided into eight different work packages.

Bio² Work Packages

WP1: Production of pure MEL biosurfactants from renewable resources in U. maydis  

The aim of the first work package will be the production of pure mannosylerythritol lipid (MEL) biosurfactants from renewable resources in Ustilago maydis. 

(Core Group Prof. M. Feldbrügge/Dr. K. Schipper, Institute for Microbiology, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf)

WP2:Enhanced surfactant production in P. putida

The second work package deals with production of rhamnolipids (RLs) in Pseudomonas putida. The optimization of P. putida as a chassis for RL production is the main goal of the second work package.

(Core Group Prof. L. M. Blank/Dr. T. Tiso, Institute of Applied Microbiology, RWTH Aachen University)

WP3: Development and validation of novel expression tools for RL production

The third work package provides new expression tools for RL production in Pseudomonas putida. These tools will be combined with the strains developed in WP2.

(Core Group Prof. K.-E. Jaeger/Dr. S. Thies, Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf)

WP4: Process design and optimization of fermentative biosurfactant production            

In work package four, fermentation processes for both biosurfactants (RL and MEL) are designed, including process optimization and scale-up from shake flask to stirred tank.

(Core Group Prof. J. Büchs/Dr. N. Ihling, Aachener Verfahrenstechnik - Biochemical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University)

WP5: Bubble-free aeration for biosurfactant production

To overcome any problems caused by foam formation, a bubble-free aeration system will be developed within this work package.

(Core Group Prof. M. Wessling/M. Sc. Patrick Bongartz, Aachener Verfahrenstechnik - Chemical Process Engineering, RWTH Aachen University)

WP6: Separation and Purification of biosurfactants

The separation and purification of the produced biosurfactants is the core responsibility of work package six. In addition, one major goal is the recycling of all process streams to ensure a zero liquid waste process.

(Core Group Prof. A. Jupke/M. Sc. A. Biselli, Aachener Verfahrenstechnik - Fluid Process Engineering, RWTH Aachen University)

WP7: Socioeconomic assessment of novel biosurfactant production

All work packages as well as the overall process will be assessed regarding socioeconomic aspects in work package seven.

(Core Group Prof. J.-F. Hake/Dr. P. Zapp, Institute of Energy and Climate Research - Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation, Research Centre Jülich)

WP8: Scale-up of biosurfactant production at NGP²

All process units will be scaled up at the Center for next generation processes and products (NGP²) at RWTH Aachen University.

(Core Group Prof. J. Büchs/ Dr. N. Ihling, Aachener Verfahrenstechnik - Biochemical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University)


Bio² Working Units

The work within Bio² is highly interdisciplinary as we develop an overall process for the production of biosurfactants with parallel and interconnected strain and process development. The whole work is structured in three main working units (WU), which are subdivided into eight work packages (WP). Altogether seven different core groups are working in this multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers.


WU1: Strain Engineering

To achieve the production of well performing biosurfactants with high yields and narrow product spectra, three of our core groups work on the optimization of the microbial background of our production organisms. This includes the development of new genetic toolboxes for an easy and effective microbial cargo chassis system. Furthermore, biosynthesis pathways and enzymatic activities are tailored specifically to the Bio² process to ensure highly efficient production. In addition, valorization of new carbon sources will be facilitated to enable the utilization of renewable substrates.


WU2: Process Engineering

Three core groups cooperate in developing a new fermentation process for biosurfactant production, starting from biomass and including purification and polishing steps. To uncover the full potential of the designed organisms, it is highly important to provide optimal conditions for growth and product formation, resulting in tailored fermentation processes. On top of that, the special requirements for biosurfactant production, including excessive foaming in traditionally operated stirred tank reactors, have to be taken into account. By simulation process alternatives, a downstream processing route is set up and validated, which is important for a sustainable and competitive biorefinery process.


WU3: Process Evaluation

The whole process development is guided by a socioeconomic evaluation and optimization via live cycle analysis (LCA) and life cycle oriented sustainability analysis (LCSA). As part of this analysis, the ecological burden of the process is evaluated. In addition, benchmarking of production costs and yields against conventional, crude oil based surfactant production is performed. Furthermore, socioeconomic impact on and acceptance by the consumer are evaluated. Thus, it is guaranteed that the process is developed in an economic, ecologic and ethical.


The overall Bio² process: