As in previous years, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH participated in this year’s Hannover Messe, the world’s biggest industrial fair. With the USA as partner country and the lead theme ”Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions”, the 2016 trade fair attracted more than 190,000 visitors from around the world. From 25th to 29th April, visitors to hall 2 were able to discover biobased products and experience an economy that runs without fossil resources.
Together with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMEL), which were represented by their project management organisations PTJ and FNR respectively, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH presented the potential of renewable resources in terms of a complex value chain.
Wood plays a central role in the bioeconomy. Lignin can be used as feedstock for developing biobased plastics. Lignin is therefore suitable for a broad range of applications. For instance, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research use lignin to produce carbon fibres that will come to play a major role in lightweight construction in the (automotive) industry.
Biobased resins are required to produce sustainable composites from these biobased high-performance fibres. Research groups from the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg, Münster University of Applied Sciences and the Research Division of Polymer Materials and Composites PYCO at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP have joined forces in a BMEL-funded project focused on the development of biobased resins.
Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are investigating how dry residual biomass can be used for energy production. The researchers plan to use the bioliq® pilot plant to produce synthetic BtL (biomass to liquid) fuels from biogenic residues such as straw or wood residues. The bioliq® process can also be used for producing chemical compounds and synthesis gases.
The entire five-step bioliq® process was illustrated with a model that was specifically produced for the exhibition at Hannover Messe. In a decentralised plant located close to the biomass producers, dry biomass is decomposed into a transportable intermediate (pyrolysis oil and pyrolysis char) using a process called fast pyrolysis. This step is followed by energy densification, which involves mixing pyrolysis oil and pyrolysis char to produce energy-rich biosyncrude. The decentralised process means that it is more economically efficient as well as reducing carbon emissions by avoiding long-distance transport.
Biosyncrude is converted into a synthesis gas at a central plant for synthesis gas and fuel production. Particles and disturbing trace compounds are subsequently removed from the synthesis gas by gas cleaning and conditioning. The cleaned gas can either be used directly without further treatment or converted into synthetic fuels for use with different types of engines. Biomass can therefore be used to generate energy. As the bioliq® process uses residual materials, the energy produced is not in competition with crops for food production.
After three years of research, the database was officially launched at Hannover Messe. It provides information on bioplastics processing and can be accessed free of charge. The database was developed by the Institute of Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB) at the Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts along with researchers from the Polymer Centre (SKZ) and Chemnitz University of Technology.
The online database stores information on a broad range of methods that can be used to produce around 100 biobased plastics. Details about bioplastics production methods can be accessed by selecting a specific material or specific method, e.g. injection moulding, thermoforming or extrusion blowing.
The project is funded by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and is now entering the second phase. The researchers are hoping to work with the manufacturing industry to achieve greater practical relevance. Manufacturing companies are therefore encouraged to contact any of the project partners to discuss the use and/or processing of bioplastics.