From emissions to a valuable feedstock for plastic precursors

The new project BioCOnversion unites multidisciplinary expertise from academia and industry in a cross-border consortium to make CO-containing process gases available for the production of added-value chemicals

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded € 1.5 million to develop an innovative bioprocess to convert syngas into a defined plastic precursor by evaluating different technology approaches. The three years project coordinated by the open innovation cluster CLIB2021 has been kicked-off end of May 2018 and is element of CLIB’s internationalisation strategy within the cross-border BIG-Cluster initiative of the regions of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Netherlands and the Belgian region of Flanders.

Carbon monoxide (CO)-containing process gases, abundant in the BIG-Cluster region through numerous industrial sites, can be valuable feedstock streams for the biotechnical production of building blocks that are currently produced via petrochemical process routes. Mid-chain carbon compounds with multifunctional groups are of special industrial interest. Since they are conventionally generated from fossil resources, routes using renewable non-food feedstocks to provide such precursors would be a major step to establish a sustainable economy. Therefore, BioCOnversion aims at developing and implementing a sustainable process from CO to a defined polymer precursor by evaluating different technologies. An international consortium of industrial and academic partners join their high-level, multidisciplinary expertise to develop a process comprising the primary conversion of CO/syngas into an intermediate through gas fermentation and its enzymatic upgrading conversion to a defined plastic precursor.

€1.5 million for developing a sustainable process to convert syngas into a defined plastic precursor

The BioCOnversion project has been launched on April 15 2018 and will run until April 2021. It receives funding of € 1.5 million from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for developing the sustainable process (funding reference 03INT513B). For this, an international team will develop different technologies for the individual process steps as a start. Their performance will be evaluated to conceptionally design the overall process using the best-suited technology approaches. This BioCOnversion process will be experimentally validated and optimised in the second project phase.

The cross-border consortium combining academic expertise and industrial experience is built by Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (Belgium), Covestro Deutschland AG (Germany), Fraunhofer Institutes for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) and for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) (both Germany), Flemish Institute for Technological Research – VITO (Belgium), nova-Institut GmbH (Germany), Ruhr University Bochum (Germany), RWTH Aachen University (Germany), Technical University of Eindhoven (the Netherlands), Technical University of Graz (Austria), thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG (Germany), VDEh-Betriebsforschungsinstitut GmbH (Germany), and Wageningen University and Research (the Netherlands). The consortium is coordinated by the open innovation cluster CLIB2021.

BioCOnversion stimulates the innovation environment of BIG-Cluster

BioCOnversion is element of CLIB’s internationalisation strategy within the cross-border BIG-Cluster initiative ( The project supports the BIG- Cluster efforts to transform the trinational region of the German state of North Rhine- Westphalia, the Netherlands and the Belgian region of Flanders into a world-leader of circular economy. “BIG-Cluster brings together highly experienced and specialised experts from all three regions to generate ideas how to develop and implement innovative technologies and novel value chains based on CO/syngas in Europe’s industrial region. The cross-border collaboration in BioCOnversion reflects this inspiring and unique innovation environment of the BIG-Cluster initiative.” stated project coordinator Cornelia Bähr from CLIB2021.


BioCOnversion project, press release, 2018-07-04.


Bio Base Europe (BBEU)
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Cluster Industrielle Biotechnologie e.V. (CLIB2021)
Covestro AG
Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO)
Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik (UMSICHT)
Graz University of Technology
nova-Institut GmbH
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH)
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Technische Universiteit Eindhoven
ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe
VDEh-Betriebsforschungsinstitut (BFI)
Wageningen University


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