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Practical Examples in Baden-Württemberg

The innovative enterprises of Baden-Württemberg’s economy contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Bioeconomy Strategy with their ideas and products. On this page, we will take a look at some of Baden-Württemberg’s innovative examples already at work in the field. 

Fibers365 GmbH:

CO2-neutral fibers and biobased polymers from annual plants
Annual plants can be used like wood to produce fibers or chemicals. This process requires investment in large scale plants, high amounts of energy and creates residual material streams contaminated with chemicals. Technical, operational, and economic challenges have limited the production of annual plant-based fibers, until now.

The steam explosion process offers a chemical-free alternative. Heating under steam and high pressure is followed by a sudden decompression, making lignocellulosic material available for later process steps. Fibers365 GmbH processes regionally cultivated annual plants with their “steam explosion” technology to produce fibers from straw and cellulose containing annual plants. The concept consists of a combination of modular “steam fiber units” with biogas plants. Residual materials after fiber extraction are used as substrate for energy production in the biogas plant and therefore provide the energy for the fiber production. A resulting liquid phase can be used as a substrate for biorefineries, fermentative processes, and biofactories. The innovation involves the technical concept and construction, which allows for decentralized steam explosion plants in agricultural areas and in the vicinity of biogas plants. Regional biomass that may otherwise be overlooked can be made into transportable biobased raw materials for industrial purposes.
Winner of the Bioökonomie-Innovationspreis 2022 of the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Cup plant field with biogas plant

Energiepark Hahnennest GmbH and OutNature GmbH:

From plant to paper – Bioeconomy through the entire lifecycle

Biogas plant operators and the manufacturer of fiber and paper products have established a new kind of value chain that follows the product from the field all the way to the shelf. By utilizing steam and pressure, valuable fibers extracted from cup plant can produce recyclable packaging. Biogas, produced from the remaining plant residues, can eventually be transformed on site into electricity or into heat for heat networks and directly marketed.
This novel type of business model generates a new income stream for farmers, since the utilization of fiber offers the potential to produce new products right on the farm. It is also becoming apparent that, compared to other energy plants, cup plant is more insect-friendly and more able to improve local humus structure. Another benefit of cup plant is its low maintenance requirements as a perennial plant, since it produces biomass for several harvest cycles after it is established.
This serves as a nice example of the bioeconomy, new value networks, and the advantages of coupled and cascade usages as well as the connection of ecology and economy with technological and social issues.
Winner of the Innovationspreis 2020 (Innovation Prize).

Biogas plant

Agro Energie Hohenlohe GmbH & Co. KG:

Increasing efficiency for agriculture in Hohenlohe by recycling nutrients from manure

In Kupferzell, an innovative plant concept was developed that could sustainably utilize slurry and manure. This farmer has expanded his biogas plant, the first step in producing green energy, so that it can also recover phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium fertilizer, and other organic soil improvers from biogas digestate.
These concentrated manure products are more transportable, marketable, and producible according to demand. Sponsored by the European Union as well as the Ministry of Food, Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection, under the framework of the agricultural European Innovation Partnership “Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability” (“Landwirtschaftliche Produktivität und Nachhaltigkeit” (EIP-AGRI)), this project was funded with 1.3 million Euro. This proves that bioeconomical approaches can contribute to increases in efficiency and resource protection for agricultural areas.
Winner of the Innovationspreis 2020 (Innovation Prize).

Lentil field

EIP-Agri-Project Rhizolinse:

Optimization of nitrogen during lentil cultivation via seeding with rhizobacteria

Growing consumer interest in locally cultivated foodstuffs with high protein content is encouraging the new uses of traditional plant crops. EIP-Agri Project Rhizolinse (Rhizolentil) is investigating the potential of natural symbiosis between lentils and rhizobiaceae.
These bacteria convert nitrogen in the air and produce essential nutrients for the plants. By providing suitable soil bacteria, the lentil plants can grow in conditions that promote the formation of root nodules, which have a positive effect on the growth, yield, and quality of the lentil product.
This efficient application of biological knowledge can contribute to the revival of traditionally, nutritionally, and ecologically valuable crop varieties in Baden-Württemberg. This project also serves as a good example of the union of ecology and economy in the knowledge-based bioeconomy.

Fan blades in the shape of an owl's wing

Ziehl-Abegg SE, Künzelsau:

A fan blade in the shape of an owl’s wing

The almost completely silent flight of an owl inspired the developer in the design of their fan blades. They have transferred the properties of owls’ wings into a technical application (bionic), resulting in the characteristic trailing edges of their fan blades.
The distinct-looking shape of this edge reduces the fan’s typical noise during operation and became a trademark of Ziehl-Abegg SE. These fan blades have potential applications in heating or cooling systems, heat pumps, or in electronic cooling applications.
This example displays the significant potential of bionics for innovative product solutions, which is a core element of the bioeconomy.
Recognized for the Umwelttechnikpreis Baden-Württemberg.

Building modeled after the characteristics of the head-stander beetle

Sto SE & Co. KGaA, Stühlingen:

Learning from nature

A native of the Namib, the head-stander beetle has developed a unique survival strategy. It collects dewdrops and is able to direct them towards its mouth due to the special surface texture of its carapace. This characteristic inspired Sto SE & Co. KGaA, who developed the idea into a type of exterior paint that can drain water away in a specific way.
Painted facades not only dry in record time, but the paint keeps both the façade and the wall itself dry long-term. Fungus and algae have no chance to take hold. This comes with the benefit of avoiding biocide applications, another advantage over conventional exterior paints.
The main goal of the bioeconomy is applying biological knowledge to give innovative products a leg up over their traditional counterparts, just like is the case for this bionic exterior paint.
Recognized for the Umwelttechnikpreis Baden-Württemberg.

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