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Logo Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) conducts cutting-edge research with a long-term focus in the fields of energy, health and matter. HZDR’s researchers  deliver solutions to the great challenges of our time and see it as our task to provide knowledge and technology for the next generations. Two of eight institutes, the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) and the Institute of Fluid Dynamics (IFD), participate in the FINEST proposal. HIF is engaged in the development of innovative technologies for the economy so that raw materials from various sources of primary or secondary origin can be made available and used more efficiently or be recy-cled in an environmentally friendly manner. To achieve these goals HIF holds extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of exploration, mining, processing and metallurgical treatment of com-plex fresh and of waste materials. HIF has an excellent reputation in developing novel methods in characterization of raw materials and combines according data with the development of processing technologies that pursue the transition to a circular economy. Additionally, HIF specializes on the optical characterization of primary and secondary resources and innovation in sensor technologies with focus on smart sensor networks. A core strength constitutes intelligent image processing for rapid and spatially resolved characterization of complex material streams. In the recycling context, HIF develops reflectance and fluorescence spectroscopy-based mapping that is combined with validation methods such as Raman spectroscopy or XRF. The advantages of such multi-sensor material characterizations (i.e. plastics, metals, semiconductors) for recycling applications are currently inves-tigated in various research projects. IFD conducts basic and applied research in the fields of thermofluid dynamics and particle transport to improve the sustainability, the energy efficiency and the safety of industrial processes. For this purpose, the institute develops multi-phase flow measurement techniques and reliable numerical tools.

Logo of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) operates the electron storage ring BESSY II, Germany’s first third generation synchrotron light source with over 35 publicly accessible beam lines, for experiments with photons. Experimental facilities include three state-of-the-art beamlines for macromolecular X-ray crystallography (MX) and the at-tached HZB-MX BioLab, which houses a state-of-the-art infrastructure for molecular biology, protein production, protein characterization and for macromolecular crystallization. The infrastructure at HZB will thus make a strong contribution to FINEST in terms of structure-based enhancement of the target-ed enzymes, as well as structural bioinformatics. Operating a user facility with more than 1,300 users annually, HZB has a proven expertise in providing access to experimental stations, training new user groups, coordinating new experiments, and dissemination of knowledge to new users. The three MX beam lines have been in operation since 2003 and have so far produced over 3,000 protein structures. The Research Group Macromolecular Crystallography currently leads a project entitled ‘enzymatic plastic degradation’. It has expertise in macromolecular structural biology and long-standing experi-ence with biochemistry, biotechnology, protein production, protein characterization, macromolecular crystallography, data analysis and bioinformatics

Logo Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is one of the biggest science institutions in Europe. It is the only German University of Excellence with national large-scale research facilities. At KIT, more than 5,000 scientists cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural and engineering sciences, economics, the humanities, and social sciences. The Institute for Technical Chemistry (ITC) at KIT develops technologies for an economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable circular economy for plastics, building materials, and biomaterials. ITC offers outstanding competencies in the holistic consideration of process chains in high-temperature process engineering, analysis and modelling of process steps, and process development from laboratory scale to pilot and demonstration-scale. To transfer our technologies to the market, we use in particular joint projects, industrial cooperations, and spin-offs. Market transfer is complemented by collaboration with governmental agencies, international networks, and public information sources. The department for Technical Mineralogy has outstanding expertise in technologies for the recycling of building materials and the production of low-carbon cement to higher TRLs up to 6. This expertise is based on more than 20 patents in this field and resulted in the spin-off (Celitement GmbH, celitement.de) and major awards. The academic research is based on fundamental science on cementitious systems with a focus on production, hardening, change under environmental stress, and transformation under hydrothermal and high-temperature conditions, which resulted in more than 200 publications in this field. Experimental facilities include outstanding analytical equipment and lab test rigs. A pilot plant for the recycling of mixed mineral construction waste into cement clinker is under construction. The ITC Pyrolysis Working Group is investigating the thermal degradation of mixed plastic waste to chemical feedstock. Amongst others, screw pyrolysis technology with moderate heating rates on a pilot plant scale and specific laboratory experiments are used to cover a TRL range from 1 to 6, the latter in transfer cooperations with industry partners. The goals are to provide real waste based data for modeling, simulation, and process development and evaluation. Current research focuses on temperature-staged pyrolysis, targeted removal of impurities and optimization of process parameters. By this, high product yields can be obtained and the main and by-product quality can be modified. Since more than 25 years the department for Combustion and Particle Technology develops successfully characterization and precipitation technologies for combustion processes and particles derived from. The extensive know-how in the field of nanoparticle measurement technology and aerosol measurement forms the basis for participation in numerous large collaborative projects at national and European level. In this context, in-vitro cell exposure systems to assess the particle and fibre toxicity in the human lung, are developed in close co-operation with the KIT Institute for Chemical and Biological Systems.

Logo of the Hemholtz-Zentrum for Environmental Research

The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany, was established in 1991 as the first and only centre in the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres to be exclusively devoted to environmental research. It currently employs about 1100 people and has become a world-wide acknowledged centre of expertise in the remediation and re-naturation of contaminated landscapes. Members of the group for Microbial Processes of the Department Environmental Biotechnology at the UFZ coordinated a RTD project within the 5th Framework of the EU-commission entitled: “Strategies to accelerate the productive biodegradation of several herbicides under environmental stress conditions” (HERBICBIOREM). It further participated in the RTD project entitled: “From Plastic waste to Plastic value using Pseudomonas putida Synthetic Biology (P4SB) within Horizon 2010 of the EU-Commission. The Ecothermodynamic/Biocalorimetry Group of the UFZ’s Department of Environmental Microbiology has experience in the fields of biothermodynamics, microbiology, metabolic and ecologic modelling, and thermal analysis methods. In recent years its research has expanded to include material and energy fluxes in complex networks (metabolic and ecologic), interactions of new micro- and nanomaterials with microorganisms, and enzymatic degradation of micro- and nano-plastics. This work was recognized in 2018 by the award of the Lavoisier Medal from ISBC (International Society for Biological Calorimetry) and in 2021 by CEEC-TAC (Central and Eastern European Conference on Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry) and MEDICTA (Mediterranean Conference on Calorimetry and Thermal Methods) for the head of the department, Thomas Maskow. The Environmental Mycology Research Group of the UFZ’s Department of Environmental Microbiology has long-term experience with regard to biochemistry, enzymology, and biotechnology of fungal degradation of environmental pollutants, with recent emphasis placed on synthetic polymers and plastic additives. The group has successfully collaborated in several completed EU projects (BIOCLEAN – Biotechnological solutions for the degradation of synthetic polymeric materials, MINOTAURUS, and SOPHIED). He is also responsible for the microbial strain collection of UFZ’s Department of Environmental Microbiology, which will be used for the project. All three groups from UFZ are currently involved in projects of the Integration Platform “Tapping nature’s potential for sustainable production and a healthy environment” at UFZ; a part of Topic 7 (BIOECONOMY) of the research programme “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future” of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Here, they are already addressing the fate and management of synthetic polymers in ecosystems in the context of microbial activity. However, the potential microbial/biochemical recycling of synthetic polymer-containing fine-grained residues from various sources to yield valuable products and minimize risks is not covered by the current research activities.

TU Bergakademie Freiberg (TU BAF), the resource university since 1765, is a university with a special focus on the value chain of raw materials. TU BAF is founding core member of EIT raw materials. One strategic topic for the next decade of TU BAF will be the field circular economy. At the university 87 professors educate about 4000 students in engineering, economic and natural sciences courses. The annual third-party funding amounts to more than 50 Mio. €, being in the top five in Germany regarding the third-party funding per professor. Together with the Helmholtz community TU BAF hosts the Helmholtz Institute for Resource Technology in Freiberg. The Institute ;Mechanische Verfahrenstechnik und Aufbereitungstechnik’ (MVTAT) of TU BAF is strongly engaged with the development and description of geo-metallurgical process steps and process chains for primary raw materials. Fundamental research on the preparation of tailor-made slags is carried out in SPP 2315 of the DFG. The development of new characterization methods for fine particle systems and of separation processes (< 10 µm) is carried out in SPP 2045. Furthermore, the recycling of lithium-ion batteries (LIB) coming from consumer electronics as well as traction batteries is also matter of investigations. The main competences are in the field of mechanical recycling, i.e. disintegration crushing, handling and sorting of cell components. This work fits into the general competence field of mechanical recycling of MVTAT, which also deals with material flows from additive manufacturing, further high-tech components like electrolyzers, or with polymers and polymer composites. MVATAT deals also with fundamental research on particle-particle interactions. In particular, hydrophobic interactions as well as interactions at interfaces are in focus – methodically, atomic force microscopy is used. MVTAT operates a recycling / mineral processing pilot plant equipped with various shredding units (rotor shear, rotor shredder, granulator, turbo mill, vertical shredder, hammer mill, etc.) on a pilot scale. Furthermore, semi-technical sorting technology (screening machine, magnetic and electrostatic separator) is also available. In the lab-scale several set-ups to simulate individual process steps, especially for solid liquid separation, are available (press filter, steam pressure filtration, compressibility permeability cell, nutsch filter, cross flow filter, membrane filter). The lab and pilot scale technology is complemented by excellent particle characterization capabilities, where size, shape and material information can be determined in the size range 100 nm to 10 mm.

Logo of the University of Greifswald

University of Greifswald (UG) was founded in 1456 and is one of the oldest academic institutions in Germany. One of the five focus areas of research of UG (“Proteomics and Protein Technologies in Infection Biology, Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology”) perfectly fits to the FINEST MICROPLASTICS subproject. In the past decades, the majority of the natural science research institutes have been consolidated to a new campus, which also includes the Institute of Biochemistry, where partner Bornscheuer´s group hosting the PI Ren Wei is located.