Annual Report 2019/20

We combine biology and engineering

Society currently faces major challenges – not least of which are escalating population growth, our wasteful, unsustainable use of global resources, an increase in so-called lifestyle diseases, and changes to our climate and environment that can no longer be ignored.

We need new approaches to such challenges – approaches that spring from a convergence of previously separate disciplines and seek to provide interdisciplinary answers. Examples can already be found in concepts such as the bioeconomy, circular economy, sustainability, digitalization, personalized medicine, and decentralized manufacturing.

Process engineering roots and biological competencies

Fraunhofer IGB seeks to take on a leading role in the elaboration and implementation of such approaches and, together with our partners, develop the innovative solutions that will help society conquer the challenges it faces. To achieve this, we will continue to build upon our deep-rooted experience in process engineering and on our unique ability, developed over many years, to combine this experience with our expertise in biology – a combination that is truly one of our defining characteristics.

In the course of last year’s reorganization of Fraunhofer IGB, we therefore deliberately realigned our activities on the basis of our new vision: “We combine biology and engineering.” This marks the continuation of more than 60 years of successful work in research, development and implementation of new concepts at the “interface” of these various disciplines.

A new focus

Our fund of expertise at Fraunhofer IGB has grown and developed over time. We have now refocused this know-how on three topics of global importance that are reflected in our business areas: Health, Environment, and Sustainable Chemistry. In this, we were guided by our mission statement: “With our applied and customer-focused research, we develop biotechnological processes for resource-friendly production within a sustainable economy and technologies that are designed to maintain human health within a healthy environment – in short: we develop sustainable technologies for human health and the health of our planet.”

Innovative research in new organisational units

To this end, we have designated so-called innovation fields that straddle our business areas and our sites. This means we can push ahead with innovative ideas and the projects they spawn not only faster but also more efficiently. What defines these new innovation fields is their depth of focus, the expertise of the people who work in them, and their business potential.


... through our research

More than ever, innovative processes require the constructive interaction of technical disciplines in system approaches. The institute combines biology and engineering – especially in bioprocess engineering, but also through the interaction of biological systems and technical material.


… by combining high‑throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics. This enables innovative, novel diagnostic platforms – Next Generation Diagnostics.

Dr. Kai Sohn


... by using bacteriophages specifically for the degradation of biofilms and thus selectively reduce the bacterial contamination of technical systems.

apl. Prof. Dr. Susanne Bailer


… by specifically immobilizing biological cells such as microorganisms or biological recognition elements on technical carrier materials in order to use them as biosensors.

Dr. Anke Burger-Kentischer, Dr. Michaela Müller

… by using energy‑efficient physical processes for the cell disruption of microorganisms to extract functional ingredients.

Dr. Ana Lucía Vásquez-Caicedo


How exactly we combine biology and engineering, we present here.

... with our competencies

Our innovation fields offer applied research and development and generate new technologies and processes on behalf of customers and in joint research projects. Our researchers have proven their know-how in the efficient handling of large projects many times and will also support you in your project.


Cell and tissue technologies

  • Cell-based assays (GLP)
  • Immune receptors and drug screening
  • 3D skin models
  • Biosensors

In-vitro diagnostics

  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Precision diagnostics and biomarkers
  • Microbiomics and environmental genomics
  • Bioinformatics

Virus-based technologies

  • Engineering of therapeutic viruses
  • Viral vectors (cell and gene therapy)
  • Phage technology
  • Virus-like particles

Biofilms and hygiene

  • Detection of microorganisms
  • Biological characterization of antimicrobial surfaces
  • Biofilms – characterization and avoidance

Algae biotechnology

  • Process development and scale-up
  • Extraction of functional ingredients
  • Algae ingredients for plant protection
  • Nutrient recycling through algae cultiviation

Food processing technology

  • Pressure change technology (PCT)
  • Cell disruption, stabilization, hygienization
  • Recovery of valuable materials
  • Process validation

Regenerative resources

  • Biomass fractionation: lignocellulose, oil seeds
  • Chemical processes
    • Conversion of lignin
    • Electricity-based fuels and chemicals
    • Downstream processing

Industrial biotechnology

  • Bioprocess engineering
  • Bioprocess scale-up

Sustainable catalytic processes

  • CO2 conversion processes
  • Chemical, electrochemical and biocatalysts
  • Coupling of reactions in process cascades

Electrosynthesis of basic chemicals

  • Components (gas diffusion electrodes, catalyst materials)
  • Process development
  • Electrochemical cells and demonstrators

Bioinspired chemistry

  • Development of bioinspired synthesis routes
  • Biobased monomer and polymer synthesis
  • Transient, responsive, switchable materials
  • Biodegradation of specialty chemicals

Functional surfaces and materials

  • Materials and formulations
  • Coatings
  • Process development


  • Humidifier and ionomer membranes
  • Ceramic hollow-fiber membranes
  • Gas separation with mixed matrix membranes
  • Osmosis and filtration membranes

Thermal separation processes

  • Thermal water treatment
  • Sorptive dehumidification
  • Drying with superheated steam
  • Torrefaction of lignocellulosic biomass

Resource recovery

  • High-load digestion on sewage plants
  • Optimized digestion processes for biogas plants
  • Recovery and recycling of nutrients
  • Bioleaching/biomining

Water technologies

  • Water management and water reuse
  • Water processing and wastewater treatment
  • Desalination
  • Advanced oxidation processes (AOP)

Technology scale-up and transfer

  • Technology exploitation and transfer
  • Design and construction of demonstration and prototype plants
  • Implementation and scale-up to TRL 9

... in our business areas

On the basis of our competencies, we use innovative approaches to develop processes and technologies in our market and industry-oriented business areas – and support customers with the direct implementation of R&D in industrial practice.


Sustainable Chemistry



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