Biochemical Conversion Department

The Biochemical Conversion Department concentrates on research into the production of energy carriers from biomass with the participation of microorganisms. The focus is on the technology for the production and use of biogas.

A technically optimised biochemical conversion is associated with many challenges. Technical, biological and chemical, as well as logistical, legal, ecological and economic questions have to be considered. Increasing the efficiency of the overall process in combination with cost reduction is one of the main goals of the research. The research topics resulting from the increasing flexibility of the operation of biogas plants - in particular the new demands on technology and process control - are also addressed. In addition, the department deals with the efficient use of material flows, the closure of nutrient cycles and accompanies the demonstration of new and improved plants and components.

All activities take place against the background of a comprehensive evaluation of the market and the state of the art, which is guaranteed by participation in various monitoring projects. Within the framework of the intensive cooperation with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, a variety of questions regarding the properties of the microorganisms involved and their population dynamics are answered.

The research focus area "Anaerobic Processes" deals with selected topics in the field of biogas.

The working groups

The working group Characterization and design of anaerobic processes" is working on the analysis and optimization of material flows relevant for biochemical conversion. This includes substrates that are used in conversion plants as well as partial streams that arise as by-products from the conversion plants. These are, for example, waste or renewable raw materials for the plants and fermentation residues from biogas plants or sludges from alcoholic fermentation, which may be used after treatment.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Substrate and process characterisation
  • disintegration
  • additives
  • process development

Contact person:
Dr. Liane Müller (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-418

Due to the ever-increasing demands on the efficiency and sustainability of biochemical conversion technologies, research and development to improve environmental impacts is carried out in the "System Optimisation" working group.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • System optimisation and integration
  • Emission situation and measurements
  • Economic evaluation biogas/ biomethane
  • Monitoring/ plant database biogas/ biomethane
  • policy advice

Contact person:
Dipl.- Umweltwiss. Jaqueline Daniel-Gromke (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-441

The clarification of process-biological interrelationships still promises the development of considerable optimization potentials for biochemical conversion processes. For this reason, the working group Process monitoring and simulation conducts research in this field in order to be able to describe the behaviour of the microbiology of the fermentation processes in more detail and to translate this knowledge into process models that can ultimately be used in control processes for practical plants.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Process optimisation
  • Process simulation and control
  • flexibilisation
  • Process monitoring/ measurement technology
  • Microbial electrochemical technologies

Dr. Jörg Kretzschmar (Head of the working group)
Phone +49 (0)341 2434-419

The applied biogas technologies are subject to strong development. Based on the knowledge of material flows and biological interrelationships, research work is carried out in the working group to optimise technologies and components for the provision and use of biogas.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Identification of technical weaknesses in operation
  • Analysis of the overall efficiency of biogas plants
  • Technical evaluation of plants and components
  • Concept development for the generation of biogas from residual and waste materials

Contact person:
Dipl.-Ing. Marcel Pohl (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-471

The working group investigates the microbial ecology of anaerobic processes with the aim of optimizing biogas production on the basis of a deeper microbiological understanding of the process. A further goal is the exploitation of natural microbial resources for biotechnological application in the biochemical conversion of biomass. The research topics include the search for microbial indicators for process disturbances to develop new monitoring methods and early warning systems for the control of biogas reactors, as well as the biological substrate pretreatment of lignocellulose-rich substrates and the bioaugmentation of biogas reactors with enriched cultures from environmental systems.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Composition and activities of microbial communities - process understanding
  • Monitoring tools and microbial early warning systems
  • Lignocellulosic Substrates
  • Pretreatment methods and bioaugmentation

Contact person:
Dr. Sabine Kleinsteuber
Phone: +49 (0)341 235-1325