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Valuable feedstocks extracted from biogenic raw materials have a variety of potential utilizations.

Coffee grounds-oyster mushrooms

Residue recycling is one of the bioeconomy’s top priorities. For example: a method that allows oyster mushrooms to grow on coffee grounds.

KIT Bioliq plant

The Bioliq pilot plant in Karlsruhe produces high value BTL (biomass to liquid)-fuels using straw.

Oil droplets floating on the surface of water

The utilization of biolubricants can offer a number of advantages: they have excellent functional properties, such as their higher lubrication value, which reduces the wear on plant equipment, and they are less harmful for the environment.

Pouring concrete

Bio-intelligent concrete contains bacteria that produce bio-lime that can fill cracks as they appear.

Sneaker and spool of thread produced from spider silk

Biotechnologically produced silk is particularly well suited for high tech material applications. It’s ten times thinner than human hair and twenty times stronger than steel, yet at the same time is more elastic than rubber.

Leftover wood chips

At the end of their lifecycle, wood products have the potential to produce biobased plastics.

3D Printing with renewable materials

Innovative materials from lignin or cellulose used in 3D printing applications can produce biobased components with outstanding properties.

Plant experiments in the field of phytomedicine

Plant-based solutions and substances also play a role in modern medicine.

Market value of precious metals

Microorganism-assisted biomining recovers important raw materials such as metals or rare earth elements.

Cleaning mechanical plant components

Surfaces that have been contaminated with oil or fatty substances can be subsequently be cleaned with biological processes, without the use of chemical solvents or hazardous materials.


Our Interpretation of Bioeconomy

Bioeconomy, the

“The knowledge-based generation and utilization of biological resources, processes, and principles that are used to provide and utilize goods and services in all economic sectors within the framework of a sustainable economic and social system.”
(Definition of the Sustainable Bioeconomy Strategy Baden-Württemberg)

The secure provision of healthy foodstuffs for a growing global population while simultaneously developing further renewable and recyclable raw material sources for material and energy uses and upholding necessary protections for primary resources such as water, air, and soil, as well as promoting biodiversity requires innovative approaches that take the entire process into account.
These challenges demand economic thinking and acting to promote a regeneration-oriented and circular economy modeled after nature. The knowledge-based bioeconomy offers solutions for these challenges and can simultaneously strengthen the international competitiveness of Baden-Württemberg.

Innovations along the food value chain

Future-oriented food production is a necessary field of innovation for a sustainable bioeconomy. Resource-sparing production systems that intelligently connect material flows and processing along the value chain, such as innovative processing systems, help to create healthy products in a consumer-friendly and sustainable way. Examples of these would include alternative protein sources for human or animal nutrition, or functional ingredients for foodstuffs (dietary fiber, food coloring, aroma compounds, etc.) derived from side streams or byproducts of food production. Intelligent material and resource management and functional packing systems can reduce losses along the food value chain. The primary objective is to reduce losses, while the second objective aims to recover residual materials and byproducts in a form that have the potential for safe and efficient utilizations as a raw material. Intelligent approaches from the field of smart farming enable an efficient and environmentally friendly use of resources and efficient nutrient cycling that aligns with demand.

Making use of nature’s material synthesizing powers

It is impossible to imagine human life without the utilization of biological resources from nature. There are already biobased materials and substances in many of the products we use every day. Biobased materials sourced from renewable raw material or residues come from the agricultural or forestry industries, or from waste. Modern extraction and conversion processes make it possible to create a diverse range of products from these materials.
Beyond that, microorganisms offer many different synthesis pathways to produce, transform, or recover raw materials. Entire microorganisms may act in these applications, or singular enzymes can serve as biocatalysts.
Not only do biobased or biotechnological products serve to substitute their petroleum-derived counterparts, they also often have additional functional value or are more environmentally friendly to produce. The application of biobased resources and biological knowledge opens the door to the development of “green” chemistry.
Byproducts and residual materials of traditional production systems, for example industrial or municipal waste, have the potential to manufacture products such as chemicals, fibers, pigments, and plastics. These materials and products have properties that are either identical to their petroleum equivalents or have new characteristics that cannot be produced with raw petroleum materials or conventional production methods, or if it is possible, it is only with considerably more effort.

Energetic utilization of biomass

An important component of realizing energy transition is the utilization and application of bioenergy from sustainably produced biomass from sources such as biowaste or wastewater. Bioenergy is therefore characterized by its ability to produce flexible heat, electricity, and fuel, with a high energy density, according to demand. However, one must consider that biomass is a scarce resource that is in high demand. Even in the context of the bioeconomy, feeding our growing population is our number one priority.
The primary objective of a sustainable bioeconomy is to utilize byproducts and residues from the production and processing of biomass and biowaste that are not suitable for nutritional purposes or material applications and aren’t needed for energy production. Biomass used for energy production should in the future, have a long and multidimensional of a production lifecycle as possible, a concept known as cascade usage.


Biorefineries serve to convert raw materials into valuable substances as completely as possible via a combination of technologies. In general, biorefineries work with agricultural and forestry residues, wastewater, and waste, but waste gases (for example, those that contain CO2) find applications as well. Through the application and linkage of different technologies and processes, all material flows could find sensible uses or be recycled. The goal is resource-efficient processes that don’t create waste and to develop products that are marketable and profitable. At the end of the value cascade, the remaining residues that can’t be used in other ways will be employed in energy production.  
This kind of diversification of biomass utilization is already in place in the paper and sugar industries. Currently, these types of processes are already involved in the production of a variety of precursors for the chemical industry and other applications. Wastewater treatment offers the opportunity to extract phosphorus, nitrogen, and energy. Another example would be the application of insects for the production of chitin, fat, and protein for the chemical industry.
A diverse array of other concepts are currently in the research phase or are in development.
One notable example, biogas plants, with their existing infrastructure, are suited for the implementation of decentralized, modular “biofactories.” Such biofactories could, through the extraction and processing of valuable ingredients from biogas substrates (such as fibers, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and nutrients), serve as another income stream for plant owners. Other applications of biorefineries exist in the field of CO2 recycling, via the extraction of commodity chemicals from waste gas. Similarly, biowaste may harbor recoverable organic components and acids.

Resource efficiency

Nature gives us the very best examples of resource and energy efficiency. Evolution has extensively optimized biological processes regarding their resource and energy usage. Due to adaptation to their natural environment, microorganisms and enzymes function under standard conditions. Consequently, biotechnological processes are more energy efficient than chemical syntheses, which usually require higher temperature and pressures. Closed loops are omnipresent in nature, anything leftover serves to provide resources or give nourishment to something else in the ecosystem.
For its part, a sustainable bioeconomy can offer role models and contribute towards increasing resource efficiency in the economy and for businesses.
It can also contribute to a sustainable delivery of non-biobased raw materials. One such focus is on the provision of metals and rare earths. Baden-Württemberg is dependent of their secure and environmentally friendly supply, given its strong industrial sector and its economic emphasis on plant engineering.
Against the background of low natural resource deposits of raw materials needed for technology and the consequent high dependency on imports, the need for new sources of raw material becomes clear. Secondary sources in urban and industrial areas (for example, slag and electronic waste) combined with biological processes (such as biomining) which are of significant importance for resilient supply chains.
Securing the long-term provision of nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich nutrients in a circularly oriented bioeconomy is possible through closing loops in material flows.
Bionic innovations, through the optimization of natural phenomena with technical solutions, can also serve to improve resource efficiency. These fan blades, for example, emulate the shape of owls’ wings so that they are especially quiet during operation. Other examples of biologically optimized processes in the industry or plant engineering fields are the lotus effect and surfaces modeled after shark skin that have particularly low flow resistances.
The implementation and expansion of these innovative technologies can support the country’s transition to a sustainable economy.

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