Biomass is a solution, but a complex one
Although complex in its utilisation, there is one source that could kill two birds with one stone: biomass, a plant material which, when used for energy production, releases only the amount of CO2 fixed during its growth.
Today's applications such as bioethanol or biodiesel are primarily based on vegetable oils (e.g. rapeseed oil), or starch from maize or sugar cane. However, such applications are controversial as they call for plants that are also food sources. So-called lignocellulosic biomass would be more suitable. Lignocellulose is present in the cell wall of woody plants. This type of biomass is the most commonly available raw material that is suitable for the production of biofuels, and it does not compete with food plant biomass.
However, the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass, such as straw or beechwood, into fuels and chemical precursors is highly challenging, which is why this joint project aimed to investigate the required biological and catalytic conversion processes and to evaluate their sustainability along the entire value chain.
A further goal was to first transform lignocellulose into carboxylic acid using a biotechnological process and, in a second step, to convert this acid into aircraft fuel.