The work group "Mikrobielle Zellbiologie und Biopolymere“ (Prof. Dr. Dieter Jendrossek) has over 20 years of expertise in biochemistry, molecular biology, biosynthesis/production and microbial degradation of sustainably produced bio-polymers, such as polyhydroxybutyric acid (PHB), polyphosphate (PolyP) and polyisoprene (rubber/latex).
In the latest research project "Bioplastics", PHB is to be produced in a microbial fermentation process originating from waste streams of green (chemical-free) paper production. Together with the Institutes of „Bioverfahrenstechnik“ (Biochemical Engineering) and „Kunststofftechnik“ (Plastics Engineering) at the University of Stuttgart and the companies Fibers365 GmbH, Kneipp GmbH and Südpack GmbH & Co. KG, a concept of a regional, bioeconomic material cycle for the production of degradable bioplastics is being developed and researched. This is intended to make a contribution to environmental and climate protection in the long term.
Agricultural waste streams usually arise in large quantities and thus have the potential to reduce dependence on fossil raw materials as annually recurring (sustainable) second-generation carbon sources. The regularly occurring quantity of regional, annual crops in Baden-Württemberg thus has enormous potential as a bioresource. The so-called "steam explosion technology" is an ecological and economical process for the sustainable extraction of cellulose fibres from regional annual plants such as wheat (straw), for example for paper production. This type of paper production produces a liquid phase as by-product, material recycling of which often remains unused and usually represents a waste material that generates costs.
Therefore, the central goal of the project "RegioPHA" funded by the Ministry of Food and Rural Areas BW is to use this liquid phase with the containing nutrients for the microbial synthesis of bioplastics, such as poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB). PHB is a biopolymer produced by suitable bacteria and can account for up to 80 % of the cell dry weight, which can easily be processed into plastic-like materials (e.g. films, bottles). Unlike conventional plastics based on petroleum (e.g. polyethylene), PHB and related biopolyesters are fully biodegradable.