Biorefinery Processes & Composite Materials

Research Interests

The research focus of the Area Biorefinery Processes & Composite Materials is on optimising the use of biomass - primarily wood - but also other renewable raw materials. With more than 20 years of experience and over 40 highly qualified scientists organised in five research teams, we are a leading research partner for industrial and strategic questions in the fields of wood and wood component chemistry, pulp quality and chemical or biotechnological utilisation of lignocellulosic raw materials. Our expertise ranges from the pre-treatment of biomass to the digestion in pressurised reactors, the separation of waste and value streams and the development of methods for the required instrumental analysis. Another focus of our research activities is on composite materials made from renewables (NFC - Natural Fiber Composite) as well as bio-based carbon materials. By means of extrusion, injection molding, pressing, melt spinning or 3D-FLM printing, these materials can be processed into innovative products with specifically adjustable property profiles. Our unique know-how also enables us to produce hybrid materials, carbide ceramics and porous carbons from biogenic raw materials and to process them into complex parts. In addition, research is being conducted on the development of bio-based carbon fibers, carbon fiber precursors and in the area of bio-based electrochemistry.

Research topics include: 

  • Development of fundamental understanding of chemical reactions in digestion processes and translation into new or improved processes
  • Pretreatment of biomass to optimise digestion processes
  • Efficient cellulose-based specialty products
  • Intelligent processes for selective recovery of components in biomass and their further use – as material and/or energetically
  • Chemical and/or biotechnological conversion of degradation products of lignocelluloses to platform chemicals
  • Downstream chemistry of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin- derivatisation and functionalisation
  • Development of analytical methods - from laboratory to industrial process applications
  • Optimisation of thermoplastic processing
    • Compounding
    • Profile extrusion (also foaming and coextrusion)
    • Injection molding (also foaming)
    • Melt spinning
    • Production of filaments (also short and continuous fiber reinforced) for 3D-FLM printing
  • Material development and optimisation of thermoplastic formulations (focus on biopolymers)
  • Development of biobased carbide ceramics
  • Development of carbon fibers and carbon fiber precursors from biobased raw materials
  • Research and development in the field of bio-based components for electrochemical applications (batteries, fuel cells, supercapacitors)


Team Pulp & Fiber Biorefinery 

The team Pulp & Fiber Biorefinery is mainly concerned with issues related to chemical pulping of wood, new raw materials for pulp production, and new products made from cellulose fibers. The utilisation of process streams from the pulp and fiber industry is another field of activity in this working group.


Team Chemical Process Technology for Biomass Utilisation

The team Chemical Process Technology for Biomass Utilisation focuses on the modification of cellulosic materials, the generation of green solvents, the material utilisation of lignin and lignin derivatives, in particular heterogeneous-catalytic conversion of degradation products of lignocelluloses to platform chemicals and the development of concepts for a cascading biorefinery.


Team Biotechnological Process Technology for Biomass Utilisation

The team Biotechnological Process Technology for Biomass Utilisation focuses on the biotechnological conversion of process by-products into valuable products and the development of concepts for a cascading biorefinery.


Team Biobased Composites, Applications & Processes

The team Biobased Composites, Applications & Processes focusses on the formulation and process development of innovative biopolymers and composite materials. This includes (natural) fiber reinforced (bio)polymers for plastic processing applications such as injection molding, (co-)extrusion, foaming (injection molding and extrusion), melt spinning, filament production and 3D-FLM printing (short and continuous fiber reinforced polymers). Core areas are ecological considerations, characterisation and selection of raw materials, processability in compounding and molding. Further development of simulation and modeling methods for compounding and plasticising. 


Team Biobased Fibers and Carbon Materials

The team Biobased Fibers and Carbon Materials focuses on the development of bio-based carbon materials such as carbon fibers, activated carbon as well as carbon moldings. Core areas are thermal treatment of biobased feedstocks, characterisation and modification of materials, and determination of structure-property relationships. The produced carbon materials are used in composites, filters, electrodes for energy storage, SiC ceramics, etc. Another focus includes research in bio-based materials for electrochemical applications.