The research group Sustainable Technologies and Process Simulation focuses on the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass and residues in Biorefineries. Investigations cover different pretreatment methods for the fractionation of biomass (hot water extraction and/or organosolv process - Details) as well as the isolation of valuable components (lignin, sugars, volatile organic acids, cellulose). By applying different biorefinery concepts, further processing possibilities of lignocellulosic biomass to different products (nanolignin, sugar substitutes, pharmaceuticals, biofuels - Details) are evaluated. The necessary thermal, chemical and biochemical processes are investigated at laboratory and pilot scale including rigorous quantification applying different kinds of process analytics.

Schematic illustration of sequential extraction with the products extractives, hemicellulose, lignin and cellulose.

The development of sustainable technologies (biorefineries, metallurgy, chemical process) is accompanied by:

  • Process simulation
  • Energy optimization (pinch analysis, heat integration, exergy analysis)
  • Economic assessment
  • Sustainability analysis

Process simulation is used to analyse single unit operations as well as their combination to complex processes. The obtained mass, energy, and exergy balances give insight into interdependencies of different process steps. The simulation results are valuable for design, improvement, optimisation, and scale-up of processes. Industrial standard process simulation software tools (Aspen Plus, IPSEpro and gPROMS) are applied. To provide necessary physical and thermodynamic properties, experimental methods as well as ab-initio calculations with software tool COSMOtherm are available.

Iteration loop with process simulation, heat integration, cost calculation, exergy calculation and life cycle Analysis

Core Competences

  • Thermal process engineering (extraction, membrane processes, rectification, absorption)

  • Development of Biorefinery concepts

  • Process simulation - Mass and energy balances of complex processes (Biorefinery, metallurgy, chemical processes)

  • Energetic optimization of processes via pinch technology, heat integration and exergy analysis

  • Process design and process optimization

  • Calculation of thermodynamic properties and electrolyte equilibria