Fossil resources such as crude oil and natural gas are currently still indispensable as starting materials for the production of basic chemicals. However, in view of global population growth and rising living standards, the current oil-based economy is reaching its limits, especially with regard to climate-relevant environmental aspects. For example, the use of fossil raw materials has contributed significantly to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide or the littering of the oceans. And the availability of fossil resources is limited.   

Biomass represents an alternative and renewable raw material basis for the production of chemical products. Its use and conversion is the basis of a biobased economy, in short bioeconomy. The aim is to bring economy and ecology into harmony to the greatest possible extent – in other words, to make processes both environmentally compatible and economical so that new processes can be applied on a large scale as quickly as possible. If renewable raw materials, biogenic residues – or directly carbon dioxide (CO2) – are used instead of fossil carbon sources for the production of chemicals, this helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate, thus enabling the implementation of sustainability goals in the sense of a sustainable bioeconomy in the future.

New technologies and strategies as accelerators of a sustainable bioeconomy

Expert statement

Privacy warning

With the click on the play button an external video from is loaded and started. Your data is possible transferred and stored to third party. Do not start the video if you disagree. Find more about the youtube privacy statement under the following link:

On the occasion of the IBISBA workshop “New technologies as accelerator of a sustainable bioeconomy” at the Global Bioeconomy Summit 2020, Dr. Markus Wolperdinger explores the question of how the implementation of a sustainable bioeconomy can be accelerated.

He highlights the advantages of a bioeconomy, shows possible applications of the bioeconomy and approaches at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and finally elaborates on the measures that can be taken to implement the bioeconomy as a new economic system more quickly in industrial reality and at the same time meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Innovations for foresight value creation




Steve Jobs

This quote, like many innovation impulses of our time, originates from the environment of digitization and yet is also considered a signpost for the transition of fossil-based economic systems.

The statement supports the entry into a new age of a knowledge-driven, biobased, resource-efficient and circular economy – in short, the sustainable bioeconomy.

The German Bioeconomy Council defines the bioeconomy as the production and use of biological resources to provide products, processes and services in all economic sectors within the framework of a sustainable economic system.

In order to implement this claim, society needs innovations in all the areas mentioned and, beyond that, the networking of all disciplines and sectors within the framework of a holistic, agile and thus adaptive system approach. This approach makes it possible to reconcile environmental protection with economic and social interests.

As a holistic systems approach, the bioeconomy is the motor for the implementation of sustainability goals, taking into account ecology, society and economy.

This is also our guiding theme at Fraunhofer IGB. We follow it with the development of new approaches for a sustainable economy, by using biobased, regenerative resources and biological systems and by designing procedures and processes according to the principle of a circular economy. In this way, we combine economic value creation with environmental and climate protection.



Circular bioeconomy for Germany

Fraunhofer researchers present a bioeconomy roadmap for resources conservation, climate protection, and food security



The bioeconomy is driving the change towards a sustainable and climate-neutral economy. It offers the potential for sustainable solutions that conserve resources and create prosperity at the same time.


Fraunhofer project

Evolutionary bioeconomic processes EVOBIO

Integrative use of material flows to produce optimized materials for innovative products in bioeconomic process cycles

Our research topics

Find out about current projects in which we are developing processes for manufacturing sustainable and biodegradable products. Find out about our activities to use alternative resources such as microalgae, renewable raw materials and biogenic residues, to recycle valuable materials or recover them for reuse. Discover as our company partner here the possibilities for your contemporary production.  

Microalgae biotechnology

  • Microalgae biorefinery
    Project FuTuReS – Economic and ecological evaluation of a biorefinery approach for the production of fucoxanthin and EPA on a pilot scale and transdisciplinary developed scenarios on an industrial scale in Germany
  • Production of valuable substances (omega-3 fatty acids (EPA), fucoxanthin) for cosmetics, food and feed
    Project MIATEST – Functional ingredients from algae for health-promoting food and as plant strengthening agent in viticulture
  • Efficient extraction processes for the processing of valuable substances
  • New modularized reactor concept and intelligent control
  • Scaling of microalgae-based processes and customized production of functional ingredients

Microalgae produce a large number of basic chemical substances such as vitamins, fatty acids or carotenoids, using sunlight as an energy source and CO2 as a carbon source.

Innovation fields

Use of wood/lignocellulose

  • Lignocellulose biorefinery
    Digestion of wood as raw material and its fractionation into the basic chemical constituents lignin and sugar or fiber
  • Cellulase production on a large scale
    Project 2GEnzymes – Enzymatically optimized organosolv fractionation with integrated enzyme production
  • High-value intermediates (high purity xylan) from beech wood
    Project XyloSolv – Sequential extraction process for the production of high-value intermediates from beech wood

The focus is on pulping of lignocellulosic raw materials and the fractionation of biomass into its basic chemical components lignin and sugars or fibers.

Reference projects

Use of biopolymers, production of biobased polymers

  • Synthesis of biobased monomers and polymers
  • Building blocks from terpenes
    Project TerPa – Terpenes as building blocks for biobased polyamides
  • Insect biorefinery – holistic use of insect skins, proteins and fats
    Project ChitoTex – Development and production of new insect chitosan and chitosan based functional coatings for yarns and textile fabrics
  • Biopolymers for packaging materials
    Microbially produced biodegradable biopolymer; the producing microorganisms are able to transform sustainable carbon sources like methane from the biogas production, sugars derived from cellulose and hemicellulose from forestry and agricultural residues, and glycerol resulting from biodiesel production.
    Project SusPackaging – Sustainable production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) for packaging materials

Starting from renewable raw materials such as sugar, rapeseed oil or algae lipids, we have identified biotechnological synthesis pathways for basic materials for plastics production, such as short- and long-chain dicarboxylic acids.

Fine chemicals and biosurfactants – Biobased alternatives

  • Microbial biosurfactant production
    using renewable raw materials such as lignocellulose-based sugar solutions or vegetable oils as substrate in the culture medium
  • Optimization of the fermentative production of biosurfactants
    Project SurfGlyco – Improved strategies for the biotechnological production of tailor-made biosurfactants
  • Selection and optimization of biocatalysts
  • Scale-up to pilot plant scale to m³


  • Recovery of CO2
    Project Celbicon – Cost-effective carbon dioxide conversion into chemicals and
    Project CO2EXIDE – CO2-based electrosynthesis of ethylene oxide
  • Electricity-based fuels and chemicals
    Project SynLink – Synthetic e-fuels as key enabler for sector linking
    Fraunhofer Electrolysis Platform Leuna ELP; Hy2Chem platform

Due to the availability of renewable electrical energy, the chemical and energy sectors will increasingly merge in the future, as the redox equivalents generated can be used for synthesis processes in power-to-x processes.

Reference projects

Sustainable bioeconomy for the environment

  • Flexible production of bioenergy
    Project NextGenBiogas – Flexible production of bioenergy can contribute stability for power grids
  • Water reuse
    Project Hypowave – Water reuse in agriculture

Our publications

Current book contributions

in Biologische Transformation, Springer Vieweg, 2019 (Fraunhofer-Forschungsfokus), ISBN 978-3-662-58242-8



Rectifying some common misconceptions about chemistry

Chemistry shouldn't be seen as a source of problems but as a means of solving problems, Gerd Unkelbach says.


Christine Rasche

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Christine Rasche

Head of Business Area Sustainable Chemistry | Head of Leuna Site (acting)

Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP
Am Haupttor (Tor 12, Bau 1251)
06237 Leuna

Mobile +49 152 06384199

Fax +49 3461 43-9199

Ursula Schließmann

Contact Press / Media

Dr.-Ing. Ursula Schließmann

Deputy Director | Head of Business Area Environment and Climate Protection

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 970-4222

Fax +49 711 970-4200

Elke Präg

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Elke Präg

Science Advisor to the Institute Management

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart

Phone +49 711 970-4044

Fax +49 711 970-4200