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2015|16 Annual Report Fraunhofer IGB

ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOPROCESS ENGINEERING The core areas of the Department of Environmental Biotech- nology and Bioprocess Engineering are the development of biotechnological processes in the fields of water management, bioenergy, environmental technology, algal technology, prod- uct recovery from organic raw materials and waste materials, and interfacial biology. A focal point are new approaches to the development of system concepts for energy, waste and water management in industry and for communities. Alongside aerobic and anaero- bic methods for wastewater purification and water treatment, hybrid methods are being used. We prefer to treat organic waste materials such as biodegradable waste or sewage sludge anaerobically, as this process allows the economical generation of biogas as a renewable energy source. Maximum efficiency is achieved through the integration of several steps to establish short process chains. The processes are always designed on the basis of microbio- logical or process engineering principles such as, for example, the growth and degradation kinetics of the particular organ- isms, and ranges from the planning, commissioning and optimization of laboratory and pilot plant facilities through to the planning, construction, commissioning and optimization of innovative demonstration plants in cooperation with our industrial partners In the field of environmental technology, processes and special reactors are available for the purifica- tion of industrial wastewater, exhaust air, and contaminated soils. Bioleaching, biosorption, and bioprecipitation are used specifically for the recovery of metals from process waters and wastes. In algal technology we use microalgae as a natural and sustainable aquatic source of raw materials; these provide a number of valuable substances such as omega-3 fatty acids, pigments, proteins for the food, feedstuff, and cosmetics in- dustries among others. In addition, for energetic utilization, oil and starch can be specifically produced from microalgae e are developing new biorefinery concepts for the ma imum utilization of algal ingredients. To enable resource-conserving production in companies ultra-efficient factory we are developing robust process en- gineering concepts and methods, among other things for the production of basic chemicals such as, for example, methane, ethanol and methanol, which can be utilized either energeti- cally or materially. In bioprocess development, the retention or immobilization of biocatalysts has an important role. The unique selling point of the department is the intelligent link between the process steps of mechanical, thermal, and chem- ical technology (incl. downstream processing technology) with bioprocesses using modeling and simulation methods. In interfacial biology, we characterize microbial contamination on surfaces and in processing media biofilm formation and antimicrobial treatments, and develop to this end appropriate test procedures. Biosensors are used for real-time monitoring of water systems in the detection of contaminants. The Environmental Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering Department is thus in a position to take part in solving socio- political challenges such as climate change, energy supply and freshwater shortage. By offering sustainable technology options, the department can help industry, communities and 4 4 COMPETENCES 44