POWER4BIO cross-visit to Central Germany – Day 3: Technical visit


On the third day of the POWER4BIO cross-visit to Central Germany, a technical visit was organised for the POWER4BIO partners. Gerd Unkelbach, Head of Business, Area Sustainable Chemistry of the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, introduced the pilot plant facilities for different biorefinery processes at the Fraunhofer CBP Leuna site. Fraunhofer CBP is a branch of Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB.

Fraunhofer IGB develops innovative solutions in the areas health, sustainable chemistry and environment with a view to economic efficiency and sustainability. Fraunhofer IGB offers in total 8300 m2 infrastructure area for the operation of plants up to demonstration scale and employs 326 persons. The Process Center at the Leuna chemical site was inaugurated in 2012.

Fraunhofer CBP supports SMEs and smaller companies to scale up their production processes from laboratory to industrial scale and helps them to bring their product to the market. These processes include the pretreatment of feedstock, biotechnological and chemical transformation and the downstream processing. Several modular plants are available for different biorefinery processes, for example lignocellulosic biorefinery, fermentation, technical enzymes and chemical conversion, reaching a technical readiness level (TRL) of 6 to 7.

One of the core competences at CBP in Leuna is the fractionation of lignocellulose into cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin for the use in a wide range of applications. Several raw materials can be processed, like beech, spruce, wheat straw and miscanthus. CBP offers integrated process development and optimisation, process analytics and a sound process and product expertise.

Mr. Unkelbach illustrated several other processes, like the ethanolic native extraction of peeled rapeseed into their compounds, chemical processes and the base-catalysed depolymerisation of lignin to bio-phenolics. He also gave an overview of the facilities and the available equipment and the cultivation of microalgae at the CBP Leuna site. The very informative presentation was followed by a question and answer session that lead to a fruitful discussion among participants about the important role of the availability of pilot plants.

Presentation of Gerd Unkelbach