Decomposition of cellulose for energetic and material use

Innovationsakademie Biotechnologie – Dr. Wolfgang Schwarz – Technical University of Munich



Beneficiary: Technical University of Munich
Funding exploratory phase: 01.04.2011 - 31.12.2011; 54.678 Euro
Funding feasability phase: 01.01.2012 – 31.01.2014; 913.810 Euro

Project description

Plant biomass to a large extent consists of cellulose, a long-chain sugar molecule in the cell wall. Potentially, cellulose is a valuable, sustainable raw material for a bio-based economy. However, so far, it has hardly been used as a sugar source for biotechnology. The reason is that the decomposition of sugar chains into their components still is too intricate.

The technology developed here is intended to help cellulose to split more efficiently into industrial sugar. For this purpose, a bacterial enzyme complex is replicated synthetically . It can break down the cellulose molecule particularly efficiently. The aim is to significantly increase the efficiency of sugar production.

During the exploratory phase, the business concept has been elaborated as well as the patent situation has been discussed and questions regarding the feasibility of the technology have been clarified. In a further step, i.e. the feasibility phase, the industrial feasibility of the technology has been investigated. For a possible follow-up project it is planned to develop the industrial proof of concept . The sugar building blocks obtained from the cleavage of cellulose are suitable for both energy (biofuels) and material use (basic chemicals, solvents) and can thus contribute to national and international bioeconomic goals.