On 11 Sptember, the 22nd BioSC Lecture took place at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Dr. Christiane S. Farinas of the Brazilian State Agricultural Research Institute Embrapa talked about „Integrated use of biomass as a platform to obtain biofuels, nanocellulose and biofertilizers”.
Dr. Farinas first presented works on the enzymatic digestion of biomass. Two major problems are the adsorption of enzymes to lignin and their inhibition by phenolic compounds. Dr. Farinas' research group has been able to minimise the former by adding soy protein, which remains after oil pressing, and the latter by adding ash from sugar cane bagasse as adsorbent. With these cost-effective processes, the sugar yield could be doubled.
The second part of the lecture dealt with nanocellulose. In recent years, the crystalline part of cellulose, which is produced during the digestion of biomass, has increasingly been used as a material for various applications, such as screens, solar panels, plastic furniture and edible packaging. Dr. Farinas presented a process for the integrated production of sugars and nanocellulose from eucalyptus.
Finally, she presented works on the improved solubilization of phosphate from phosphate rock using Aspergillus niger. A new application for fertilization is the use of a nanocomposite of starch, ground phosphate rock and A. niger, from which phosphate is released over a longer period of time. The nanocomposite can also be loaded with sulphur and mineral oxides and leads to comparable results with commercial fertilizers in plant growth. All the works shown were impressive examples of the possibilities of bioeconomy.