Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy


From plants to pilot plant - Holistic process development in a sustainable bioeconomy

BioSC International Online Summer School 2020
August 24 - 28, 2020
Virtual events at Forschungszentrum Jülich / RWTH Aachen / Campus Klein-Altendorf Bonn

photo: Fotolia

The change from a petroleum based to a more sustainable and bio-based economy necessitates the development of novel concepts to maintain for example the supply of raw materials and energy. Biorefinery concepts for the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass to value-added compounds are promising alternatives to secure economic prosperity combined with ecological and social responsibility. To develop a biorefinery process fulfilling these requirements, a holistic process development is necessary, which considers the whole process chain from plants to production plant.

The BioSC international summer school aims to interdisciplinary train talented young researchers, raise their awareness, and create a deeper understanding of a sustainable bioeconomy. The program will cover the whole process starting with sustainable plant biomass production followed by examples for fermentation concepts and downstream processing. In addition, substrate analytics and economic evaluation will be taken into account. Besides keynote presentations, the program will be designed interactively, including exercises and case studies on the different topics covered to give hands-on practice in this highly innovative field of future bio-based process development.


The following topics will be covered:

  • Sustainable plant biomass production
  • Building up the refinery
  • Determining lignocellulose
  • Sustainability assessment and business models
  • Case studies

Download Flyer!

The Summer School is limited to 20 participants. Our program is aiming mainly for PhD students, but to a limited extend (up to 25% in total) also advanced master students and early Post-Docs can be selected. PhD students of the BioSC CoreGroups are strongly encouraged to apply for the summer school.

Please apply via the link "Application" and upload your CV, a motivation letter and your latest certificate. The application deadline is July 12, 2020. Successful candidates will be notified latest until the beginning of August 2020. The selection will be done by the responsible scientists of the summer school and by representatives of the BioSC Office.

The whole summer school will be done in a virtual format and a program for full days is not efficient. Please be aware that there will not be program for the whole day. Details can be found in the following agenda.


The summer school will kick off by introducing selected plant species with high potential for biomass production and thus bioeconomy purposes. For this, we will introduce the experimental field site “Campus Klein-Altendorf” of the Agricultural Faculty of the University Bonn. We will gain insights into the different plant species, their specific traits and properties and the demands for their successful growth and development. We will get to know how plant phenotyping technologies allow non-invasive assessment of key plant architectural and functional parameters instrumental in estimating the success of the selected plant-production system. The important societal issue of “food or fuel”, whether non-food plants for bioeconomy purposes should be produced on agricultural soils, we will show possibilities and the most recent research on how to successfully grow such plants on marginal soils, i.e. soils that are not suitable for food production.

In summary, Day one aims at providing a knowledge base on biomass plants and their production for bioeconomy purposes and the associated opportunities and challenges, agricultural as well as societal.


Plants have evolved to be very recalcitrant against decomposition by parasites and environmental impacts. Hence, a pretreatment to fractionate its main components lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, is a challenging but crucial step to convert this biomass to fabrics, chemicals or fuels. Within day two of the summer school, you will learn techniques to characterize the cell wall of lignocellulosic biomass, as well as advantages and disadvantages of different pretreatment strategies. Overall, this day is determined to give an understanding of the plant biomass composition and relevant strategies to make the valuable components available separately.


The third day of the summer school focuses on fermentation (“upstream”) and subsequent downstream processing of value-added products related to the bioeconomy. Fermentation process examples for utilization of sugar streams obtained after pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass will be presented. The utilization of xylose, one of the sugars obtained from hemicellulose, is for example challenging. This sugar is often not naturally metabolized by the microorganisms used for fermentation. In addition, innovative control of fermentation processes by softsensors will be explained and discussed. Since the fermentation broth often contains the product of interest, but also unwanted side compounds (e.g. biomass, by-products), subsequent downstream processing is very important. As part of the summer school, you therefore will learn about the most important options for downstream processing and how to choose the right option for your process. You will also learn how to model the fermentation process to draw conclusions for the process design in advance. Overall, this day is determined to give an understanding of the interconnection of upstream and downstream processing and the challenges associated with utilization of lignocellulosic feedstocks.



On the fourth day the scope is widened from specific technological applications towards broader topics of sustainability and market mechanisms of bioeconomy. Sustainability is a very wide topic, therefore you will learn about different concepts of sustainability and what values lie behind them. Important developments of recent years will be discussed, e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals developed by the UN. One way to assess sustainability of products is Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment combining environmental, economic and social aspects in one sustainability method. Based on the example of biosurfactants, you will learn how such an evaluation is carried out.

The afternoon session focuses on the concept of bioeconomy. On the example of the “Rheinisches Revier” transformation processes towards bioeconomy, considering attitudes of experts and population are presented. A second section deals with market developments, trends and prospects. In a workshop you will learn what must be included in a business model to be able to develop your own business model.



On day five of the BioSC Summer School, we will wrap-up the learning outcomes of the summer school presenting again the main key points of every single day and bridging between the days for the holistic view. To enhance your awareness for the importance of evaluating processes in the light of the bioeconomy, we will present you some case studies from the BioSC FocusLabs, which cover the whole chain in bioeconomy. The summer school will be closed by an open discussion including your comments and criticisms to the program and the overall organization.




The event is carried out entirely as a virtual event. The participants receive all information for the software used and the online processes in advance. The time spent on the different days will not always be the same. Sufficiently long breaks are planned. A detailed agenda will be sent to the participants by mid of August at the latest.

Participation is expected on all event days, as the content of the individual days is linked thematically, particularly at the end. Accordingly, only participants of the entire summer school receive a certificate of participation. Individual days cannot be booked.

Please upload one document including your lastest certificate (Bachelor certificate or Master certificate or doctoral certificate), a motivation letter and your CV here in one PDF format!

Deadline: July 12, 2020

The Application is closed.