Inauguration of the demo plant

Fraunhofer CBP Press releases / 11.5.2017

Away from oil - sustainable raw materials are the future. This is the motto not only for biodiesel, but also for isobutene, a basic substance of the chemical industry. In a pilot plant, researchers are now seeking to gain this substance from sugar instead of from petroleum. (Press releases "Sugar instead of oil")

© Fraunhofer CBP
Alec Bulc, project manager GBE, in the cutting of the loop

On May 11, 2017, the German-French company Global Bioenergies (GBE) began operation of its demonstration plant for the production of biobased isobutene in Leuna.

About 100 guests from business and politics, also Dr. Jürgen Ude, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economics, Science and Digitization of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, met the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP to inaugurate the facility together with a ceremony.

After almost three years of construction, the process for the production of isobutene from sugar is now being demonstrated at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes (CBP). The heart of the plant is a 5000-liter fermenter, where up to 100 tonnes of isobutene can be produced each year. In this process, microorganisms convert sugar obtained from renewable raw materials - for example from sugar beet or sugar cane, from cereals, or From agricultural and forestry residues such as straw or woodchips. (Press releases "Sugar instead of oil")

Isobutene, one of the most important petrochemical base materials, is used to produce plastic, acrylic, elastomers and fuel.

"In the future, it will even be possible to combine the isobutene molecules with biokerosin by trimerization," explained Monique Merkel, a former Masterand at Fraunhofer CBP, who now works as a fermentation engineer at Global Bioenergies. However, further efforts in research and development are necessary, according to the expert.

As Deputy Head of Fraunhofer CBP, Dr. Daniela Pufky-Heinrich to guests. Professor Dr. Christian Oehr, deputy head of the Fraunhofer IGB, congratulated GBE on commissioning and wished the CBP cooperation partner continued success.

Meanwhile, intensive cooperation between GBE and the CBP is continuing. On the one hand, the project for the demonstration of the isobutene process is to be extended beyond 2017. On the other hand Fraunhofer CBP, on behalf of GBE, is developing processes for the chemical further processing of isobutene into fuel additives such as isooctane.