Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy
BOOST FUND 2.0 Project OptiCellu

A multidisciplinary approach towards the sustainable production of cellulose fibres



Cellulose fibres are widely used in textile, material reinforcement, and paper industries. They are produced through complex processes that are energetically costly and may involve large amounts of water, directly impacting their sustainability. Cellulose fibres available on the market are often produced through aggressive mechano-chemical processes or steam explosion, leading to fibres with poorly controlled degrees of polymerisation, coated with harsh chemicals, and with non-adjusted water retention properties, that all directly impact the quality of the final product. A major cause
to this industrial challenge is the complexity and variability of the plant biomass feedstock used as the initial substrate. To account for the complexity of the substrate while controlling the properties of the final product, in this project, we will establish an alternative approach, based on enzyme biotechnology, that combines unique expertise in three scientific units, i.e. an Experimental Unit, a Computational Unit, and a Manufacturing and Innovations Unit. Using a Systems Biology approach and two distinct model classes calibrated using quantitative experimental data, we will develop and apply computational tools, to simulate the enzymatic modification of plant fibres, to engineer specifically physical properties, such as water capacity. Thus, owing to our original multidisciplinary approach, we will be able to advance both fundamental research questions and targeted bioeconomic challenges. In addition, we will evaluate the market for the products derived from our sustainable alternative approach, through the associated consumers‘ acceptance.

BOOST FUND 2.0 Coordinator

Dr. Adélaïde Raguin
Institute for Computational Cell Biology
HHU Düsseldorf
email: Adelaide.Raguin[at]



Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Dr. Holger Klose, Dr. Philipp Grande,  IBG-2 – Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich with the support of Prof. Henrike Heise, IBI-7– Structural Biochemistry, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Prof. Vlada B. Urlacher, Dr. Katja Koschorreck, IBC – Institute of Biochemistry II, HHU Düsseldorf
Prof. Holger Gohlke, Institute for Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, HHU Düsseldorf and IBG 4 – Bioinformatics, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Prof. Martin Lercher, Dr. Adélaïde Raguin, Institute for Computational Cell Biology, HHU Düsseldorf
Prof. Thomas Gries, Dr. Sascha Schriever, Lukas Lechthaler, Justin Kühn, Institut for Textile Technology and Engineering, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Monika Hartmann, Janine Macht, Institute for Food and Resource Economics, University of Bonn

Funding Period

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2026



OptiCellu is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.