Issue 96, March 2018
bullet Bioeconomy
bullet Kaffeeform
bullet Innovation: Bio-Lutions
Waste, pollution and contamination are among the most vital threats to our existence. Air, land and water are all affected by the way much of the world uses its ever decreasing resources. To lay groundwork for long lasting change Germany, as one of the first countries, published the " National Research Strategy Bioeconomy 2030", - a strategy for a bio based transformation of industry and society, in 2010.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän, Head of the Department of Bioenergy at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ and a member of Germany's Bioeconomy Council since September 2012, shares her insights on Bioenergy as part of the Bioeconomy in this month's interview. She states: Bioeconomy "is the transformation of our resource base to renewables and the improvement and innovation of product and services."

Along these lines we are highlighting four great examples of new and innovative products from Germany with the potential to make a lasting impact on the health of our environment.

DEUREX PURE absorbs oil spills while leaving no chemical residue behind. Fraunhofer IMWS has created an alternative to microplastics in cosmetic products. Bio-Lutions' mission is to revolutionize packaging by exchanging plastic with agricultural waste, which has been processed into a new disposable product. And Kaffeeform uses a natural and disposable resource, coffee grounds, to produce to-go coffee cups while reducing waste from coffee itself.

Interview with Prof.  Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän, Bioenergy at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ, Leibzig

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän is the head of the Department of Bioenergy at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ and of the Bioenergy Systems Department at the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ), both in Leipzig. Furthermore she is co-spokesperson for the "EnergyLandUse" integrated project in the Helmholtz "Terrestrial Environment" research program.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän has been a member of the Bioeconomy Council since September 2012. She represents Germany on the ISO Committee "Biogenic Solid Fuels", is a member of the Energy Council for Saxony, coordinator of accompanying research for the "Biomass Energy Use" funding program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and head of Scientific Accompanying Research in the "Bioeconomy Cluster" (2012 - 2017). She has been working in the Extended Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) since January 2017.

In this month's interview, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Daniela Thrän, highlights the benefits of a growing bioeconomy and focuses especially on the advantages and challenges of bioenergy. Furthermore she elaborates the importance of an international framework to make bioeconomy viable.

To read the full interview, click here.

Image: Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum GmbH - DBFZ

Oil spills in the ocean have a devastating effect on the marine life as well as the danger of tainting water supplies. These oil spills and even chemical leaks - whether they happen at sea or in a mechanical garage - can be cleaned up by DEUREX PURE. The "magic cotton" is hydrophobic, swims on water and does not leave any chemical residue.

DEUREX PURE is made of wax that, when heated under pressure, turns into a light, spongy material that can adsorb about seven-times-its-own-weight's worth of oil, chemicals or other hydrophobic liquids. One gram of raw wax can be transformed into this fluffy adsorbent with a surface area of 3 m². It is used not only in oil spill management but also in waste water treatment and industrial applications. After DEUREX PURE absorbs the hydrophobic liquid, it can be wrung out and reused.

In additional, DEUREX PURE can protect wind turbines against hydraulic and gear box oil spills. The material is used as a seal. While water can still flow through the fiber, oil will be absorbed and bound.

G ünter Hufschmid and his team, who discovered DEUREX PURE by pure chance through a minor mistake at one of Deurex facilities, is the proud recipient of the European Inventor Award 2017.

Source & Image: DEUREX AG

Kaffeeform  Beitrag3

Espresso, Cappuccino or Americano, to-stay or to-go, have become a big part of today 's lifestyle. But with the enormous rise in coffee consumption also comes an enormous amount of coffee grounds as a side product. What happens with all this "coffee waste "? Is there a way to reuse this natural product? And if so, what does it take to preserve it for good? These questions, alongside intense coffee consumption during his personal studies, kept the product designer Julian Lechner awake at night. His goal became to create a completely new product from coffee ground waste.
Three years of experimenting with this raw material, in addition to discussions with experts and scientists and endless trials, finally paid off: by recycling coffee grounds and using renewable raw materials, the formula for " Kaffeeform " came to life. The prototype as well as the obvious first product to demonstrate the potential of the new material was, appropriately, a coffee cup.

The coffee grounds are collected in local coffee shops in Berlin, Germany. Once dried, they are combined with other renewable raw materials, such as wood grains and biopolymers, in southern Germany. All Kaffeeform products have the appearance of dark marblewood, smell of coffee, and are very light. The dishwasher-friendly product proves to be long-lasting.
Being fully committed to sustainability, Kaffeeform not only uses a resource that is commonly wasted to create something entirely new, but it can also help reduce the accumulating waste of a typical to-go-cup. Staying true to the company 's philosophy, all products are packaged and shipped through workshops that employ people with disabilities.

Source &  Image:  Kaffeeform

Microplastics are still used in personal care products, even though the damaging environmental impact is well-known: the tiny plastic particles from peelings and other skincare products enter the sea - and ultimately our food chain - via waste-water systems. In a research project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS and its partners tested materials that can biodegrade and essentially replace microplastics in cosmetic products.

Many cosmetic products such as body gels or deodorants contain tiny plastic particles (so-called microplastics, such as made of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP)). As "gentle abrasives," the plastic particles remove dead skin flakes by means of friction and stimulate the blood circulation of the skin. If introduced into the environment via waste water, the plastic particles can be very harmful to organisms.

In a joint research project, titled KosLigCel, with CFF GmbH and Skinomics GmbH, the Fraunhofer IMWS developed skin care alternatives manufactured from ecological materials. Research was done within the framework of the BioEconomy cluster, in which partners from industry and research in central Germany work together on the fundamentals of the material and energetic usage of non-food biomass.
The goal for the KosLigCel project was a cost-effective production of biodegradable cellulose particles from beech wood, oats, wheat and maize that meet the requirements for abrasiveness and cleaning performance. The particular challenge was to design the cellulose particles in such a way that their size, shape, hardness and surface structure lead to the desired product properties.

"After two years of research work with the project partners, we have achieved very good results," says Dr. Sandra Sarembe, project coordinator at Fraunhofer IMWS. The research team was able to scientifically confirm that cellulose particles have comparable effects in cosmetic products as a substitute for polyethylene.

Source & Image: Fraunhofer IMWS 

We are confronted daily with news and pictures of polluted beaches and seas of waste. This growing environmental crisis is caused by countless disposable products we use every day that are made out of toxic plastic. Our lifestyles lead to enormous amounts of waste that will take centuries, if not more, to decompose. But the sad reality is that no cleanup or recycling program will fix this. The solution can only be the permanent replacement of plastic with ecological materials, the renaturation of the world of materials.

Bio-Lutions' innovation aims to transform agriculture waste (through a process of "nano-filibration") into a self-binding material that can be processed into disposable products. As the process is purely mechanical and no chemicals or other additives are needed, the products are 100% natural and will disintegrate under normal environmental conditions. By using agriculture residues, Bio-Lutions has developed a one-crop-two-products philosophy, in which fruits are being packaged with the residues of their own plants. Ultimately, Bio-Lutions pursues an innovative, decentralized production strategy that further reduces emissions with its sustainable and affordable material solutions.

Bio-Lutions' creators hope to make a great impact on the markets of disposable products. Their goal is to replace as many products made from plastic as possible. Currently, Bio-Lutions is concentrating on the packaging and disposable tableware markets, but the future holds opportunities for new technologies and applications in other industries.

Source &  Image: Bio-Lutions AG