Initiative for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming

Innovative technologies and smart farming can increase the biogenic value of aquaculture and land crops.
© Fraunhofer IGD

A step towards a more sustainable agriculture and food industry

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and its Initiative for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming are using the combined expertise of five Fraunhofer institutes to plan the entire food value chain in order to reorganize it in terms of sustainability as well as to aid businesses in the food industry with their transformation process. The center is organized into two smaller initiatives across several offices in Bavaria and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The research and development of innovative technologies for the sustainable production and processing of agricultural products, i.e., the increase of biogenic value creation, takes center stage here.

Fraunhofer IVV is starting with a range of selected projects for the sustainable, resource-efficient use of our regional raw materials.

Teaming up for a common goal

The interdisciplinary team of scientists contributes a wide range of expertise from the sectors of robotics and automation, sensors, analytics and actuators, AI and big data, as well as construction, production and process engineering. The objective is to consolidate the core areas of expertise and tackle complex, system-related challenges for various sectors of the agricultural and food industry – and to do so alongside regional and supra-regional collaboration partners from industry, science and research. An additional focus is the transfer of university and non-university research into practice.

Biogenic value creation on land and at sea

The holistic approach graphic describes how sustainable value networks on land and in water can be optimized using data-based smart technologies.
© Fraunhofer IGD

Resource-efficient agriculture and processing

We are conducting research so that agricultural products and biogenic raw materials can be produced and used more sustainably, thereby advancing the politically driven paradigm change towards ecological and resource-efficient agriculture and production. With the development of intelligent technologies, we are laying the foundations to provide the optimum growth conditions for livestock and plants so that production is highly efficient, both ecologically and economically.

Fraunhofer IVV research projects within the Initiative for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming

Lecithin alternatives from native plants

Lecithin is one of the most commonly used emulsifiers in the food industry. It is usually obtained from sunflowers, rapeseed or soybeans, the availability of which depends heavily on world trade.

To strengthen biogenic value creation, we are investigating the extraction of lecithin from native raw materials and residues from food and agricultural production. We are also investigating the potential lecithin substitution by pectin, both in terms of application and extraction, e.g. from apple pomace or citrus peel.

Oleogels from regional oils

Spreadable and set oleogels can be created by combining liquid plant oils with plant-based polymers (e.g., carbohydrates and proteins) and secondary plant substances. These can be used in food as a replacement for the controversial palm oil or utilized as a sustainable, plant-based lubricant.
Regional oils and the oilcake produced from the residual material serve as raw materials. For local agriculture, this means a clear increase in value creation for regional plant oils.

Enzymatic lipophilized polyphenoles

Polyphenoles are present in many plant residues from food and agricultural production. Their characteristic antioxidative properties make them attractive biobased additives. However, as they are not soluble in oil, their use is limited to aqueous media. In the PoLipen project, we are developing a lipophilization process enabling application in oily substances, such as biobased lubricants. The project also includes the identification of new raw materials as well as the development and characterization of sample products.

Value creation with paludicultures for sustainable packaging

Moors are the largest terrestrial carbon pools. To encourage their preservation, we aim to create maximum value through productive agricultural use of peatlands, i.e., paludicultures. We are researching the use of paludicultures for the production of biobased, sustainable packaging. To this end, we analyze potential raw materials, develop processing methods, investigate interactions and carry out material tests.

Toys made from lignocellulose waste

The increasing shortage of wood has been throttling the growth of WPC (wood plastic composite), a commonly used material. Lignocellulose, a large amount of which is accumulated in the food industry (e.g., as draff in breweries), offers an alternative.
The aim of the project is to combine lignocellulose with the appropriate biopolyesters for use in the production of toys via injection molding.
This project will help to increase resilience using local raw materials and decrease CO2 emissions.

Functional moisture resistance for fiber substrates

60% of our plastic waste comes from packaging. To reduce this quantity, a bio-based, moisture-resistant coating system is in development for fiber substrates. It offers the ultimate level of protection for food when used as packaging. The raw materials are derived from bark, which is frequently used thermally as a side-stream in wood processing.
In this way, the project is making a sizeable contribution to increasing sustainability.

Tannins from extracts as antioxidative multifunctionals

Many industrial plant residues contain tannins as secondary plant substances. Tannins are a natural product and feature excellent antioxidative, antimicrobial and UV-stabilizing functions. In the T.E.A.M project, we are testing the use of tannins as an option to extend the shelf life of personal care products. The project also includes residue screening, development of extraction processes, analytical characterization and development of formulations.

Optimized edible coatings for fruit and vegetables

Over the course of the zero waste initiative, we are conducting research into edible packaging alternatives that have similar characteristics as traditional packaging and are designed to help maintain quality.
The project aims to develop a functional lipid-based coating using antimicrobial natural substances.
Producing functional plant substances from remnants of food processing contributes to sustainability.

Value creation for regional fruit pomace

Currently, fruit pomace is mainly used by biogas plants and as animal feed. If fruit pomace is fermented with water kefir, a vitamin-rich probiotic is produced which helps boost the intestinal microbiota thanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
The probiotic product of the fermentation could be used as a health supplement to restore intestinal flora. By using regional raw products in a holistic and sustainable way, the value of agricultural products increases.

Plant-based fibrillose protein for food applications

Plant proteins are used as raw materials to produce meat and fish alternatives, for example. However, these proteins have a globular structure, while animal muscle tissue has a fibrillose structure.

To imitate animal muscle tissue, the ProSpin project aims to develop a new technology that can be used to produce plant-based protein fibrils for food applications.

Nondestructive product evaluation and shelf life modeling

From 2023, fluorescent tubes will have to be phased out and replaced by LED lighting. As light is a major factor in the shelf life of foodstuffs, this changes their optimum shelf life. The LED ZePElin project uses digital storage systems to document the resulting changes in quality, which form the basis for calculating shelf life models depending on the storage conditions. The results then indicate the conditions required for optimum shelf life.

Legumes for Tempeh

Tempeh consists of cooked fermented soybeans. It is rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals.

The aim of this research project is to develop tempeh products from local legumes such as peas, sweet lupins and field beans, as these, like soybeans, contain valuable vegetable protein, plenty of fiber and unsaturated fatty acids. Various types of fungi are used in the fermentation process to expand the product range.

Antioxidants from plant based residues

Plant based residues often contain valuable substances such as antioxidants, which could be used in various areas such as coatings, cosmetic products, food and lubricants. The problem is that both the composition and the content of antioxidants can vary greatly, as these are strongly influenced by external factors. The aim of the project is to develop a database-based mixing tool with measurement data of various plant origins that makes it possible to deliver antioxidants of consistent quality.

Sustainability goals

The Center for Biogenic Value Creation and Smart Farming addresses the following EU sustainable development goals (SDGs) in particular in order to make a signification contribution to sustainable development:

  • SDG2 - Zero hunger
    Food security on the basis of sustainable agriculture

  • SDG3 - Good health and well-being
    Health and well-being for all at all ages

  • SDG 6 - Availability and sustainable management of water
    Ensure availability of water and sustainable management of water

  • SDG 9 - Industry innovation and infrastructure
    Build resilient and sustainable infrastructure and foster innovative developments in industry

  • SDG12 - Responsible consumption & production
    Promote responsible consumer behavior and sustainable production processes

  • SDG15 - Life on land
    Sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and halt the loss of biodiversity