Optimisation of Process Biology
A principal task of PFI Biotechnology is to initiate and implement research projects in the area of biogas. In current projects we are studying the microbial flora in biogas plants. Optimisation of process biology offers enormous potential for further efficiency enhancements in biogas generation.
Our goal is to elucidate the manifold interactions between the central microbial groups in the biogas process and to acquire a more profound understanding of the optimum growth and nutrient conditions.
Isolation and characterisation of particularly effective bacteria also opens up the possibility of developing starter cultures specifically for biogas plants.
Utilisation of Residual Biomass – Lignocellulose
Another important field of research for PFI Biotechnology is the assessment of the suitability of hitherto hardly utilised kinds of biomass as a substrate for biogas generation.
The main focus is on residual biomass and agricultural co-products such as material from landscape management or straw. Increased use of these substrates could defuse the conflict as to whether agricultural land is used to grow energy crops or food crops.
However, the use of such highly lignified biomass in biogas plants poses new challenges for process engineering and process biology. We are developing and optimising new digestion methods to transform these materials into substrates suitable for biogas generation (see also Biomass Pretreatment).
We also test the effect of additives on the biogas process. One important current topic is that of providing microorganisms with an adequate supply of trace nutrients, especially in plants with high volumetric loading rates and little or no liquid manure in the substrate mix.
We investigate which trace elements are of crucial importance for process stability in biogas plants, and determine their optimum concentrations.
Cost-benefit analysis on use of hydrolytic enzymes in biogas plants is the topic of an extensive joint project with participation of PFI Biotechnology.