Platform Chemicals and Materials from Biomass
The challenge of our time is not only to produce energy and fuels from renewable sources, but also to gain chemicals and to realize procedures on a sustainable way in order to establish a wide spread bioeconomy. To gain platform chemicals from biomass, biomacromolecules need to be degraded. This can be done either by thermal degradation (see other work at IKFT), or more selectively by splitting in a solvent.
Particular favorable is water as stable and cheap solvent and abundant in biomass anyway especially in high amounts. The special properties of water at high temperatures and pressures enable a more selective depolymerization than thermal degradation. Target products are as valuable as possible, like proteins or multifunctional compounds which could serve as chemical building blocks for instance for polymers production.
In terms of a biorefinery the aim is to use all components. Therefore, cascades of individual process steps are necessary to gain high yields of a valuable product together with chemical energy carriers from residual fractions.
Recently our work focuses on lignin and lignin containing biomass as well as microalgae and sewage sludge. Concerning lignin we also investigated the depolymerization in ethanol and in an organic solvent.