Clariant: End of commercial biorefinery in Romania

Straw to fuel: It was the first large-scale plant for the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, a second-generation biofuel, which started operations in Podari, Romania, in June last year. Now the specialty chemicals group Clariant has surprisingly announced the end of the new plant. As the Swiss company announced on December 6, the Board of Directors decided to close the flagship plant for ethanol production using the Sunliquid process. Development activities at the German sites in Munich, Planegg and Straubing are also to be scaled back accordingly.

ERC: Bioeconomy projects by four top researchers honored

The European Research Council (ERC) is the most important European funding organization for excellent frontier research. The Consolidator Grants, which are aimed at outstanding scientists in the middle of their careers, are among the most sought-after funding formats. They receive funding of up to 2 million euros over five years to consolidate their independent research teams and conduct research in their specialist disciplines.

Phone case

Smartphone covers protect the device from damage or scratches and increases its longevity. However, most phone cases are made from petroleum-based plastic, end up in the trash after use and can contain substances that are harmful to humans, such as plasticisers.

Bioeconomy International: Looking back and forward in Bonn

In view of global challenges, markets and trade relations, a sustainable bioeconomy can only succeed through international cooperation. In 2012, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the "Bioeconomy International" initiative ("Bioökonomie International"), with the first projects starting the following year. Research alliances between German players and partners from non-EU countries are supported. The aim is to strengthen research cooperation with the world's best and tap into international innovation potential.

Diversity turns soils into carbon sinks

Meadows and pastures are important carbon sinks. The soils of so-called grasslands absorb a third of the world's carbon stock. Until now, researchers have assumed that carbon storage depends on the amount of plants growing on the soil. A recent study now disproves this assumption. In it, an international research team with the participation of Leuphana University Lüneburg examined the connection between the plant diversity of grasslands and carbon sequestration in soils in more detail.