Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy
28.02.2019

"BIO-raffiniert X" at Fraunhofer UMSICHT

The 10th “BIO-raffiniert” conference took place from February 26th to 27th, 2019 at Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Oberhausen. This year´s theme "New ways to use biogenic resources?", which was also the topic of the first “Bio-refined” conference in 2003, was examined from different perspectives. Two presentations were given by BioSC members Dr. Nina Ihling (RWTH Aachen University) and Dr. Arnd Kuhn (FZ Jülich).

In the first keynote lecture, Jörg Rothermel (Association of the German Chemical Industry) and Dietmar Peters (Agency for Renewable Resources, FNR) summarized the material use of renewable resources over the last 20 years. Whereas the share of cultivation of renewable resources has remained about the same, their use has increased. The higher demand is covered by imports such as palm oil. The use of CO2 as a sole carbon source would represent a major challenge due to the high demand for hydrogen and the large amounts of power needed for its production. Coverage of the demand for biogenic carbon and the necessary closing of the carbon cycle will require a mix of different sources.

In the second keynote, Harald Gröger (University of Bielefeld) presented new ways and practical examples for producing chemicals relevant to industry by linking chemo- and biocatalysis. Uwe W. Fritsche (International Institute for Sustainability Analysis and Strategy) highlighted the sustainability aspect in the bioeconomy in the third keynote lecture, which was further elaborated in a subsequent workshop. Here, the importance of the bioeconomy for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was discussed; the lack of action to concretize the bioeconomy and SDGs was also featured. The bioeconomy is not always sustainable per se. It is also important to bring the bioeconomy into people´s everyday lives, integrate them in its development and implement the bioeconomy in towns, where material flows are considerable. In two other workshops, discussion focused on "Modern plant breeding techniques in the bioeconomy – the wrong path or the way forward!" and "Synthesis gas: platform of the future or technology impasse?".

In another session, "The role of biorefineries in the bioeconomy" was highlighted. Among other topics, Regina Palkovits (RWTH Aachen University) presented manufacturing routes for new valuable substances made of cellulose and hemicellulose through the use of heterogenic catalysis and electrocatalysis.

On the second day of the conference, various projects and practical examples were presented by representatives from science and industry. Amongst others, Nina Ihling (RWTH Aachen University) explained the Bio2 BioSC FocusLab, a multidisciplinary joint project of the Bioeconomy Science Center, the goal of which is to develop a new process for the production of biosurfactants on the basis of renewable resources. Another representative from the BioSC, Arnd Kuhn (Forschungszentrum Jülich), presented the effect of biochar from pyrolysis and HTC processes as a soil additive for sustainable plant production.

In a World Café forum, current and future challenges for biorefineries as a technological platform were compiled and the results were summarized in a video message. In his keynote speech, Kurt Wagemann (DECHEMA) pointed out the important aspect of industrial symbiosis for shared value creation. The final session addressed the concept of "New products and business models through the use of biogenic raw materials". In impressive fashion, the 10th anniversary conference once again demonstrated the combination of research, application and policy that shapes the character of the longstanding series of conferences.