Petroleum is the lifeblood of the chemical industry. It is the raw material for basic chemicals and is used to produce a tremendous wealth of products. Growing demand and dwindling resources mean that the chemical industry is increasingly focusing on renewable resources. Lignin is a wood component that is proving to be a particularly promising resource. It is currently almost exclusively used for generating energy, although it could also be used for many other purposes. In Baden-Württemberg, a research consortium is specifically focused on exploring the potential of this wood component.
Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski conducts basic research at the University of Freiburg. But this is not all the well-known plant biotechnologist does. He also wants his ideas to become concrete products. This is why he established Greenovation Biotech GmbH, a company which produces novel drugs in mosses. The company’s first moss-produced drug candidate – Moss-aGal – a recombinant form of human α-galactosidase, is now being tested in a phase I clinical trial.
In some situations such as in the food and pharmaceutical industries or hospitals, a test to identify disease pathogens can be vital. At present, such tests are relatively time-consuming and can take hours or even days to produce results, depending on the pathogen. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart are currently developing a rapid test called ImmuStick which is as easy to use as a pregnancy test and delivers the result in just a few minutes.
The Biopolymers/Biomaterials cluster was one of five clusters that won the BioIndustry 2021 competition in 2007 and that received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The cluster’s ”Biotechnological process development for novel membranes based on collagen” research project was funded by the BMBF from 1st February 2013 to 31st January 2016. The project involved four companies and one university and aimed at improving the processing of collagen using biotechnological methods. Dr. Hans Füßer from Naturin Viscofan GmbH managed the project and here he talks with Dr. Ariane Pott from BIOPRO about how a new sausage skin prototype was developed.
Petroleum is required for producing fuels as well as many everyday items. However, as petroleum resources are dwindling, researchers are carrying out intensive research into possible alternatives. Wood might be one such alternative. It is a renewable resource that can potentially be used as a raw material for many products manufactured by the chemical industry.