Integrated Biotechnology and Process Engineering

(Integrierte Biotechnologie und Prozesstechnik)



Research in the field of Integrated Biotechnology and Process Engineering paves the way to a sustainable usage of the world’s limited natural resources. The aim of this interdisciplinary research center is to achieve significant improvements in economic value creation, keeping German industry competitive and preparing the students of today to the employment situation of the future.

Industrial biotechnology – also known as white biotechnology – uses biological systems for the sustainable manufacture of (fine) chemicals, active substances, new materials and energy carriers from renewable raw materials. It is geared to the model of sustainability and also develops concepts ensuring ecological and social compatibility.

The classical disciplines of chemistry and biology provide catalysts that can be used in organic synthesis. In principle, the task of process engineering is to transfer these reactions, which are usually undertaken on a laboratory scale, to an industrial scale and thereby to ensure their economic feasibility. The aim of the research center “Integrated Biotechnology and Process Engineering” is to develop and take forward the potentials of white biotechnology in order to be able to make active use of them in the future. This includes developing new and unusual biocatalysts as well as developing and optimizing processes with a view to achieving a marked increase in energy and resource efficiency.

Implementing these scientific projects poses great challenges to research and technology. Only by means of the latest methodical developments can the increase in efficiency, required to make generating power from biomass or biotechnological processes competitive, be achieved. These processes must harness unusual reaction conditions and systems or use innovative materials and mathematical modeling of biological systems. Therefore, active interdisciplinary collaboration between microbiologists, chemists, biotechnologists and engineers in the structure of the research center is absolutely essential. A network of SMEs associated with the research center, and of large chemical and life science enterprises, ensures that research is not undertaken in an “ivory tower” and that tasks with practical relevance and high industrial implementation potential are taken up and worked on.

Waste derived from plants such as straw or wood can and is intended to be used in this way, as a source of both energy and raw material. Work is also in progress on expanding the palette of commodities that are suitable for biomass power stations so as to counteract competition with sources of food. The economic efficiency of biorefineries can be increased further by combining the production of biogas and biofuels and of further products and recyclables for the chemical industry.

To accelerate the pace of research activity and put it on a wide basis, the institutes participating in the research center “Integrated Biotechnology and Process Engineering” aim to initiate and coordinate joint interdisciplinary third-party funding projects at different levels and to establish a collaborative research center at the TUHH. The scientific knowledge newly acquired in this way is intended to achieve widely visible external publicity for the TUHH.

By coordinating the two BMBF-funded research clusters “BIOKATALYSE2021-Sustainable Biotechnology Along New Lines” and “BIORAFFINERIE2021-Energy from Biomass” and the two DFG-funded priority programs “Porous Media with a Defined Pore Structure in Process Engineering - Modeling, Application, Synthesis” and “Dynamic Simulation of Interconnected Solids Processes”, and by taking part in the Hamburg Excellence Initiative, the research center already has several lighthouse projects. The TUHH’s excellent infrastructure also contributes towards the success of many research projects. Consequently, the research center can handle the entire process chain from gene to complex process on a pilot plant scale. In this way new, environment-friendly developments at the research center can be converted quickly into applied technologies.

At the intersection of engineering, molecular sciences and materials sciences the TUHH’s research center “Integrated Biotechnology and Process Engineering” with its high potential for innovation thereby makes an active contribution toward extending Germany’s scientific, technological and economic lead.