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Sustainable bioeconomy

This research field is concerned with contributing to a bio-based value chain permitting a sustainable economy. Research into a sustainable bioeconomy comprises work in biotechnology, plant research, and soil research (agrosphere). This work aims to support the transition from an oil-based to a bio-based economy and to contribute to the efforts to feed a growing global population.

Measuring plant growth in the fieldScientists measure the growth of plants using various instruments.
Copyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / Ralf-Uwe Limbach


In biotechnology, new technologies are investigated for the development of enzymes, production strains, and bio-processes. This allows renewable raw materials to be used to produce industrially or pharmaceutically useful materials, which can then be utilized in chemicals, vitamins, or detergent enzymes as an alternative to oil-based products.

Plant research

Plant researchers investigate how plants grow and how their crop yield can be increased sustainably – i.e. they explore how plants can be optimized with regard to their use of water, nutrients, and light. They also analyse the role plants could play in the production of fuels: be it the use of plant waste materials that arise from food production or the cultivation of “energy crops” on nutrient-deficient soils, i.e. plants that cannot be used for foodstuffs. Aspects of climate change are also taken into account here.

Terrestrial systems

Neither climate change nor the increasing agricultural use of fields for food, feedstuffs, and plant energy carriers is without consequences: fertilizers, pesticides, and monocultures modify the soil and groundwater. Jülich scientists use simulations in laboratories and in field research to investigate the hydrological and biogeochemical processes in terrestrial systems. Their studies focus on the fate and behaviour of anthropogenic materials and the elucidation of conversion processes with regard to the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum and on the cycles of important materials.