Biomass fractionation

© Sven Döring
Lignocellulose-containing material
© Fraunhofer IGB
Oilseeds (rapeseed)

Digestion and fractionation processes for holistic use in biorefineries

The main aim is to establish processes for biorefineries in Germany and throughout Europe.

The focus is on digestion and fractionation processes

  • material containing lignocellulose, such as wood or straw.
  • and alternative processing lines for oilseeds.

We develop the processes on a laboratory scale and scale them up for transfer to pilot scale. In the field of biomass fractionation, we are developing new technologies and innovative processes for processing lignocellulose, polysaccharide and oil-containing substances in order to enable the holistic use of biomass, increase added value and obtain high-priced end products.

Biorefinery pilot plants at the Fraunhofer CBP

The following links will take you directly to the corresponding pages on the website of the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, our branch in Leuna.


Lignocellulose biorefinery

A specially developed integrated pilot plant is available for the pulping of lignocellulosic raw materials and their fractionation into the basic chemical components lignin and sugar or fibers. The plant enables digestion with organic solvents under increased pressures and temperatures, known as organosolv technology.


Oilseed biorefinery

Here, the mild EthaNa process is used to process oilseeds, which is operated at ambient pressure and a maximum of 70 °C to prevent denaturation of the proteins and other quality-reducing reactions. It enables holistic utilization of the raw materials and higher-quality product fractions compared to conventional processing.


Further information at Fraunhofer CBP

The Biomass Fractionation group of the Regenerative Resources innovation field works entirely at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, our branch in Leuna. You can therefore find further information on equipment, research focuses and current projects on the Fraunhofer CBP website under "Raw material processing".

Short overview

Lignocellulose biorefinery

The processes that can be realized in the pilot plant for fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass are shown in the simplified plant diagram. First, lignocellulose is pulped in a 400-liter reactor at up to 200°C, whereby lignin and hemicelluloses dissolve in the ethanol-water mixture. The additional tanks and heat exchangers in the tank farm permit an efficient displacement washing of the feedstock under reaction conditions as well as the energy recovery within the pulping process. From the lignin and hemicellulose rich liquor, lignin is precipitated by adding water or by distillation of the ethanol, filtered off, washed, and  dried. The used ethanol is recovered completely from the filtrate while the hemicellulose sugars remain in the aqueous solution. The solid, fibrous residue from pulping is isolated and washed, dewatered and, if necessary, enzymatically hydrolyzed to glucose in specially designed stirred reactors at high consistency. After filtration, the glucose solution is concentrated into a syrup for long term storage.

In the second phase of the “Lignocellulose Biorefinery” collaborative BMEL-funded project, the Organosolv fractionation was transferred to the pilot scale successfully, and in accordance with the biorefinery concept, it was demonstrated that the wood can be used as a feedstock for chemicals on the technical scale. The pilot plant is now being used in international and national research projects to further optimize the process, to integrate the intermediate products obtained in various value-added chains, and finally to pave the way for the industrial implementation of the technology.

Oilseed biorefinery

At Fraunhofer CBP, new processes for processing oilseeds are being transferred from laboratory to pilot scale. From 2020, the pilot plants for peeling and ethanol extraction of rapeseed will be put into operation. A rapeseed biorefinery will be used to demonstrate a new process from seed peeling and subsequent digestion to the processing of valuable vegetable product fractions.

Lignocellulose biorefinery

Reference projects

Oilseed biorefinery

Reference projects


November 2022 – October 2026


Alternative proteins for everybody and everywhere

Healthy and sustainable food – is this possible? The European Like-A-Pro project deals with the production of food from sustainable resources, and simultaneously the understanding of the consumer’s affections and needs that have to be satisfied to render the European dietary more healthy and in harmony with nature.


November 2020 – April 2022


Insulation material from rapeseed hulls and biobased epoxy resin

When dehulling oilseeds, the hulls accumulate as a by-product. In the DaeRpa project funded by the state of Saxony-Anhalt, an innovative approach to using rapeseed hulls as an insulating material is being investigated. To this end, the rapeseed hulls are to be covered with a biobased coating to improve their stability and their flame-retardant effect.


September 2017 – February 2022


Piloting the ethanolic native extraction of peeled rapeseed

In the “EthanNa®” joint project, cell disruption of rapeseed and recovery of valuable materials are carried out with ethanol instead of the usual solvents ensuring a higher quality of the products. In addition, the mild EthaNa process makes possible to isolate novel recoverable substances. The project's objective is the establishment of a pilot plant at the CBP.

Publication Type
2021 Unravelling an efficient fractionation of complex mixed lignocellulosic feedstocks in a pilot scale biorefinery
Verges, Marlen; Schulze, P.; Smit, A.; Zomeren, A. van; Rasche, Christine
Conference Paper
2020 The impact of having an oxygen-rich microporous surface in carbon electrodes for high-power aqueous supercapacitors
Hérou, S.; Crespo Ribadeneyra, M.; Schlee, P.; Luo, H.; Cristian Tanase, L.; Roßberg, C.; Titirici, M.
Journal Article
2019 Effect of process parameters in pilot scale operation on properties of organosolv lignin
Rossberg, Christine; Janzon, Ron; Saake, Bodo; Leschinsky, Moritz
Journal Article
2017 Impact of pre-treatments on properties of lignocelluloses and their accessibility for a subsequent carboxymethylation
Heise, K.; Rossberg, C.; Strätz, J.; Bäurich, C.; Brendler, E.; Keller, H.; Fischer, S.
Journal Article
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