Over the course of another year marked by the shadows of the pandemic and its ramifications, we have all had to find entirely new solutions to deal with the challenges brought by the coronavirus. And once again, the outstanding ability to combine biotechnology research with process engineering expertise has proved to be a key factor here.
Highlights in the area of health
Just like the vaccine manufacturers, we at Fraunhofer IGB have put our know-how to work and developed tools to address these new challenges. For example, in the Healthy Air Initiative of the state of Baden-Württemberg, we helped to develop new methods for detecting viruses in aerosols. We have also conducted extensive research to find ways of increasing our PCR testing capacity to meet demand. One promising development is a procedure for detecting SARS-CoV-2 based on the high-throughput sequencing method developed at the IGB.
CO2 as raw material
However, we have more on our plate than just the pandemic, since the issue of climate change also calls for fast progress in technology. In a wide range of projects – such as CO2EXIDE – we are investigating ways of using CO2 as raw material for innovative conversion processes and to manufacture sustainable products. One of these novel solutions, which was developed under the collaboration program between Fraunhofer and Max Planck Society, brought our vision of combining biology and engineering to life in a particularly impressive way. In this project, the team in Straubing and their partners have successfully fixed CO2 in a redox-active hydrogel for the first time, by means of electro-biocatalytic reduction.
Hydrogen Lab Leuna
One of the outstanding events of the year was the launch of the Hydrogen Lab Leuna, an electrolysis plant that we constructed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS (headquartered at Fraunhofer IWES). Now, for the first time, the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, our institute branch in Leuna, will be able to test the production of chemical components from green hydrogen under real life conditions of fluctuating energy generation in a chemical park.