Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy
SEED FUND 3.0 project SSWEEP

Solvent swelling to enhance enzymatic and microbial plastics upcycling

Photo: Joachim Kohler-HB (CC BY-SA 4.0)


Bio-upcycling of plastic waste is a rapidly developing scientific field with prominent applications in the circular bioeconomy. Especially the development of PETases that hydrolyse polyethylene terephthalate (PET) has rapidly progressed, to the point where these enzymes are now being commercially developed for recycling purposes. However, research is strongly focused on the in vitro application of these enzymes at elevated temperatures and there is a knowledge gap with tremendous untapped potential regarding the underlying microbiology. SSWEEP aims to address this gap with innovative multidisciplinary approaches, aiming at increasing the enzymatic and microbial degradation of PET, and the recycling of PET/PE laminate foils. If successful, the SSWEEP approach offers a plethora of exciting chances for innovation in a circular PET economy that can help to solve the global challenge of plastics pollution, while also providing economic opportunities for hybrid-resource biorefineries by in-cycling cheap carbon feedstock from the excellent German PET collection logistics.

SEED FUND 3.0 Coordinator

Prof. Dr. Nick Wierckx
IBG-1: Biotechnology
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (FZJ)
email: n.wierckx[at]



Prof. Dr. Wierckx, IBG-1: Systems Biotechnology, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Prof. Dr. Schwaneberg,  Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jupke, AVT - Fluid Process Engineering, RWTH Aachen


Funding period

01.02.2022 - 31.01.2024



SSWEEP 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.