Strategic Research Field Bioeconomy at the Fraunhofer ISC

The concept of the bioeconomy is closely linked to the "circular economy" and is to be developed into a "circular bioeconomy".

However, the bioeconomy does not only focus on the optimisation of material flows and resource management, but also aims at social change processes and the biologisation of many branches of industry, which will result in completely new products and solutions.

The Fraunhofer ISC offers sustainable solutions for the refinement and efficient material use of biogenic materials

Our competences

Fine Chemicals Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC


  • (Non-)covalent binding of biomolecules (antibodies, proteins, ...) to inorganic/hybrid materials (for example particles or (bio)functional surfaces)
  • Adhesives by integration of synthetically produced mussel peptides (dopamine/hybrid polymer)

Biogenic hybrid materials



  • Processing and finishing of natural fibres and yarns
  • Extraction and modification of biogenic basic chemicals

Biobased Products Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC

Material design for sustainable agriculture/forestry (materials for modern plant cultivation)

Added value from agriculture/forestry

  • Biogenic adhesives and their processing in (wood) lightweight construction (veneer bonding)
  • New magnetic inductive bonding of lightweight wood components / veneers

Refinement Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC

(Biohybrids) Material design for bio-reactors

  • Immobilisation of enzymes on porous (glass) support structures for the synthesis of fine chemicals
  • Metal-oxidic particles and porous surfaces as support structures for continuous, photochemically assisted biocatalysis for the synthesis of fine chemicals
  • (Non)/covalent binding of biomolecules (antibodies, proteins, ...) on carrier systems for catalysts (biocatalysis)
  • Magnetic separation of algae

Functional coatings made of biogenic (residual) materials

Processing Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC

Process and material development for sustainable water management

  • Magnetic porous scavenger particles for the purification of groundwater/drinking water against nitrogen / phosphorus (over-fertilisation), hormones (drug residues), (heavy) metals, micro- and nanoplastics etc.
  • Process for continuous ultrafiltration/purification of ground/drinking water (or other fluids)



  • Detection of microbial germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi) using sensor chips (e.g. particle-based sensors, rapid tests)


Sustainable energy production

  • Particulate, metal-oxidic electrode layers as support structures for the synthesis of methanol from CO2
  • Sustainable hydrogen production using biohybrid, scalable solar-powered stand-alone system through CO2 fixation for renewable energy sources

Circular Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC

"Design for Recycling" on the level of the material (closed loop)

  • Selective separation of layers / separation of material composites:
    • Electrohydraulic shredding (separation of composites at material interfaces)
    •  "Bonding-Debonding" (local heating of e.g. adhesives by magnetic particles (MAGSILICA®) in an oscillating magnetic field
  • Triggerable degradable silicones


Toxicological and metabolic evaluation

  • Human 3D in vitro test systems for food (e.g. feed, food supplements) and active substances (herbicides/fungicides/fertilisers) with regard to their interaction and metabolism in humans and farm animals

Test system for new materials

  • Test systems of biogenic active substances (e.g. anti-microbial effect of plant dyes)
  • Test systems of non-biogenic active substances (herbicides/fungicides/fertilisers) for agriculture/forestry

Services Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC

Toxicological and metabolic evaluation

  • Human 3D in vitro test systems for food (e.g. feed, food supplements) and active substances (herbicides/fungicides/fertilisers) with regard to their interaction and metabolism in humans and farm animals


Test system for new materials

  • Test systems of biogenic active substances (e.g. anti-microbial effect of plant dyes)
  • Test systems of non-biogenic active substances (herbicides/fungicides/fertilisers) for agriculture/forestry


Bio-analogues (organo)typical tissue models

  • Artificial three-dimensional tissue models for "animal-free" pre-clinical risk assessment and efficacy testing of new products in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, nutrition and chemical sectors (3D in vitro test systems)


Accredited material analysis

Apparatus engineering

  • Special equipment construction for composting/degradability tests and other test methods

Project MoNova

Project MoNova Recyclable plastic packaging
© AdobeStock

How plastic packaging becomes recyclable

Plastic is a material with many positive properties for packaging: Lightweight, inexpensive, break-resistant, durable - and is therefore used en masse. However, discarded plastic packaging has become an environmental burden worldwide. For many types of packaging - such as film pouches with a stand-up bottom - recycling is not possible because different plastics are bonded as laminates in one and the same package to achieve stability, sealability, printability, moisture resistance or oxygen impermeability. The different types of plastic in the laminate can usually no longer be separated, but neither can they be recycled together because they are too chemically different.

Fraunhofer ISC is working with three other Fraunhofer institutes on a new manufacturing process for polyolefin-based plastic films to replace film laminates that cannot be recycled. The core elements of the process are pure polyolefins or recyclates, special additives and physical and wet chemical post-treatment. This should enable the film properties to be adjusted just as precisely to the respective technical requirements as is the case with film laminates made from mixed plastic grades. However, by being limited to a single type of plastic, these films will be fully recyclable and enable a genuine material cycle, i.e. they can serve as raw materials for new packaging. With its materials expertise, the ISC ensures the necessary barrier effect of the new generation of films against oxygen and moisture.

Want to learn more about recyclable plastic packaging?
Dr. Patrick Wenderoth looks forward to your message.


Project BioBaFol

Project BioBaFol organic plastic packaging
© Fraunhofer ISC

How plastic packaging becomes "bio"

While the recyclability of polyolefin-based plastic packaging aims to ensure that fossil resources are recycled with as little loss as possible, Fraunhofer ISC's developments for biogenic plastic packaging go one step further in the direction of the bioeconomy and the reduction of fossil resources.

Together with four partners from industry and research, Fraunhofer ISC is working on a new generation of film based on biogenic, readily available raw materials that meets all the usual requirements for food packaging. The starting point is biogenic plastic based on lactic acid (PLA). The basic material lactic acid is produced, for example, from residual materials in milk processing. The previous disadvantages of the PLA obtained from this, such as sensitivity to moisture, difficult processing and lack of recyclability, are to be eliminated by modifying the formulation and combining it with partly bio-based bioORMOCER®.
The pure biogenic films thus obtained are to have comparable technical properties to conventional - but in principle non-recyclable - film laminates for food packaging, but require less material and can be recycled. In this way, they should not only enable a resource-efficient circular economy, but also break the dependence on fossil raw materials. The research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture as part of the "Renewable Resources" funding program.

Want to know more about biogenic plastic?
Dr. Ferdinand Somorowsky is pleased to hear from you.


Project NewHyPe

Project NewHyPe Mulching film
© pixabay

New material approach for mulch films to combat microplastics in the field

On the road to more environmentally friendly cultivation methods, Fraunhofer ISC is working with research and industry partners from Germany, Finland and Norway on the development of sustainable mulch films for agriculture in the NewHyPe joint project, which is co-funded by the EU and BMBF.

Mulch films are used to extend the growing seasons - as in asparagus cultivation, for example, or to reduce undesirable weeds and thus pesticide use, but also to reduce evaporation and favorably influence the water balance of the soil. Petroleum-based plastic films are mostly used, which ultimately contribute to the formation of microplastics in the soil. Paper mulch films are not durable enough for most uses and also usually contain petroleum-based binders that pollute the soil. A more environmentally friendly substitute for the films used on a large scale must be extremely cost-effective and capable of being mass-produced.
Fraunhofer ISC and its partners in the NewHyPe project are focusing on the further development of proven technologies and inexpensive renewable raw materials. As a basis, paper is to be produced from functionalized nanocellulose and/or lignocellulose from the wood industry with a biodegradable and mineral oil-free binder on an inorganic-organic basis. This paper is expected to become stable enough in itself as a mulch film. For longer cultivation periods, the project team is also working on a cost-effective biodegradable functional coating that additionally stabilizes the paper. The Coating Development department at Fraunhofer ISC is coordinating the joint project and contributing its many years of expertise in the functionalization of nanocellulose or lignocellulose in combination with hybrid binders and the equipping of paper against moisture and other influences. Together with the partners, the aim is to create a cost-effective and sustainable replacement for the mulch films based on renewable raw materials that have been used to date, as part of the bioeconomy initiatives of the EU and the German government.

Are you interested in the NewHyPe project?
Dr. Klaus Rose is looking forward to your message.


Our goals

The Fraunhofer ISC aims to develop sustainable solutions for the refinement and efficient material use of biogenic materials.

To this end, we want to work closely with partners from agriculture (producers) through to reuse/recycling.

Initially, higher-value applications for biogenic materials (refinement) will be developed. In the medium term, a circular bioeconomy is to be established. In long-term projects we are working on the use of modern methods (such as biochemistry) for revolutionary biobased technologies such as artificial photosynthesis.

Positioning Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC

Strategy Bioeconomy Fraunhofer ISC
© Fraunhofer ISC