Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

9th BioSC Spotlight: "The Bioeconomy of Wood"

Wood as an innovative resource and material was in the focus of the 9th BioSC Spotlight on March 5, 2024 at the NGP2 Center for Next Generation Processes and Products at RWTH Aachen University. In an auditorium of around 50 persons, scientists from the BioSC and external experts discussed current developments for a wood-based bioeconomy.

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The wood-based bioeconomy is both a partner and a key element in a circular economy, becoming a game-changer for industries given the issue of raw materials availability such as construction and building, textile production, and pulp and paper industry. Establishing innovative wood-based applications where wood is used as construction material contributes to the transformation of these industrial sectors. However, how wood is grown and used economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable are important areas of activity for the development of new value chains. This range of topics was highlighted at the 9th BioSC Spotlight "The Bioeconomy of Wood".

Following the welcoming address by Ulrich Schurr (Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2), spokesperson of the BioSC Executive Board, Jörn Viell presented Aachener Verfahrenstechnik, the process technology division of RWTH Aachen. He discussed in particular the possibilities of the NGP2 research biorefinery to support the upscaling of processes to production scale, which is often a major hurdle for the market entry of bio-based innovations.

The keynote lecture by Andreas Kleinschmit von Lengefeld (Homo Silvestris Europae) introduced the theme of the BioSC Spotlight. The internationally renowned forestry and wood expert gave an overview of forest ecosystems in Europe and explained the need to proactively develop them towards greater resilience and biodiversity. Based on selected examples, he discussed the prospects for decarbonizing construction through the use of wood.

In the session "Raw materials and processing", Alessandra Operamolla (Università di Pisa, NanoLeaves Lab) presented innovative uses of polymers from lignocellulosic biomass in materials research and development, for example the use of nanocrystalline cellulose for the preservation of historical print products. Tobias Meckel (TU Darmstadt, Macromolecular and Paper Chemistry) spoke about high-resolution fluorescence nanoscopy for the investigation of cell wall polysaccharides in paper. Jimena Martinez Diaz and Leonie Schoofs (Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2) presented their doctoral theses on the influence of the lignocellulose composition of poplar wood on the sugar, lignin and cellulose yield during OrganoCat digestion and on the optimization of OrganoCat processes for lignin extraction (BioSC projects AP3PREDIG and LignoTex).

The “Innovative Products” session started with another doctoral thesis. Xiuli Wang (TU Delft, Biobased structures and materials) reported on building with living trees, which are made to grow together at certain points by exploiting adaptive growth processes and thus form larger load-bearing structures. The targeted use of grown wooden structures such as branch forks was one of the examples given by Dennis Grizman (RWTH Aachen, Chair of Structures and Structural Design) for building with natural materials. Sascha Schriever (RWTH Aachen University, ITA) reported on the BioSC project LignoTex, which aims to produce lignin-based textile fibers from lignocellulosic biomass. Finally, Peter Bekaert presented the “Modellfabrik Papier” (paper model factory), which aims to develop new processes for environmentally friendly paper production with the support of numerous stakeholders from academia and the paper industry.

Following the presentations, there was the opportunity to visit the NGP2 research biorefinery. This concluded a well-rounded and informative event, in which a lively exchange took place throughout the day in an interdisciplinary auditorium.


Photos: Forschungszentrum Jülich