Project meeting of STEP at the site of the company ATS - Agro Trading & Solutions in Hardegsen (Photo: DBFZ)


Project ID 03KB018


Fermenterlabor (Foto: DBFZ)


  • 01.08.2009 – 15.10.2012


GFZ German Research Centre For Geosciences
14473 Potsdam

Dr. Hilke Würdemann
Telefon: +49 (0) 331 288-1516     

Anne Kleyböcker
Telefon: +49 (0) 331 288-1557    


03KB018B - DBFZ Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum gemeinnützige GmbH
03KB018C - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
03KB018D - Technical University Berlin
03KB018E - Technical University Berlin
03KB018F - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • Address:
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
    Chair of Energy Economics / Institute of Industrial Production (IIP)
    Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
    76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen
  • Contact:
  • Pr. Wolf Fichtner – project leader
    Telephone: +49 (0) 721-608-44460

    David Balussou – Project coordinator

Associated partners

Cooperation partners



Available only in German.


The project deals with the engineering optimization of the fermentation of biogenic residues.


This joint project is targeted at the engineering optimization of the fermentation of biogenic residues with regard to sustainability and at contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Improved process control and fluid dynamics as well as the development of early warning systems for process disruptions are major aspects of this joint project. The ecological and economic evaluation of the optimization approaches to be developed are also part of this research work.



The GFZ develops early warning systems in terms of over-acidification and floating layers. Therefore investigations at different full-scale biogas digesters and laboratory-scale experiments are conducted.


To implement the project the DBFZ accomplish tracer studies, which should enable robust conclusions to the process control of biogas plants and for disinfection of fermentation substrates. These measures help to avoid process disturbances and optimize the process technology. Essential part of the research is also the combination of different methods in detention period measurements (Biotracers and numerical flow simulation calculations). It should enable a comprehensive weak-point analysis with regard to the substrate mixing. In addition, an improved data base for the ecological balancing of the biogas production from biogenic waste materials and organic waste will be created and recommendations for ecological optimization of system operation developed. Finally, the developed process improvements are measured in terms of their environmental impact.


Within the framework of the joint project, the UFZ carries out bioprocess technology investigations regarding the formation of foam. This will help to identify the conditions for foam formation, define reliable measuring parameters and derive methods for the prevention of foam formation. Furthermore, the effects of anti-foaming agents will be investigated.

TU Berlin, Fakultät Prozesswissenschaften

In contribution to the cluster project the department of chemical engineering of the TU Berlin analyzes and simulates fluid dynamics in biogas plants. The planned investigations are supposed to optimize the fermentative degradation of waste. On the one hand the improvement of stirring leads to increased space-time-yield. On the other hand an improved consumption of waste degradation optimizes the CO2-balance. Another focus of the project is to investigate the complex rheology of different substrates which is integral for fluid dynamics. To realize the investigations, in-place measurements at the plants are done and samples for rheological characterization are taken frequently. Due to the construction of a scale-down biogas reactor, systematic simulations of the large-scale reactor’s state can be performed. Fluid dynamical deficiencies are supposed to be discovered by the simulation which leads then to an optimization of the fermentative process.

TU Berlin, Fachgebiet Bodenkunde

In contribution to the cluster project the Department of Soil Science of the TU Berlin aims to develop scientific basics for the closure of nutrient cycles, the prevention of toxic substance accumulation in soils and the optimization of CO2 balances during biogas production processes. Therefore, nutrient and toxic substance concentrations and their bioavailability in different digestates are determined. In addition, the relations between feed material, fermentation processes and digestate characteristics shall be analysed. Another key aspect is to quantify the influence of digestates on the C balance of soils and to identify the according reasons.

With the help of an energy system analysis the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology will elaborate optimization propositions for the developed concepts and technologies, aiming at the digestion of biomass wastes and residues. Statements concerning the profitability and the sustainability of the global project will be realized, furthermore chances for market penetration of the different technologies will be estimated. The building of a consistent technology database and the elaboration of future scenarios (with focus on the residues and waste use) will help to realize a sustainable biomass use as well as the integration of biogas into the German/European energy system



  • Early warning systems
  • Tracer studies
  • Molecular biological analyses


  • Analysis by biotracer
  • Method optimization
  • Ecological valuation


  • Foam formation 
  • Effects of anti-foaming agents

TU Berlin, Fakultät Prozesswissenschaften

  • Fluid dynamic investigations 
  • Stirring and mixing techniques

TU Berlin, Fachgebiet Bodenkunde

  • Availability of nutrients and toxic substances of different digestates and their impact on the humus balances in soils


  • Techno-economic evaluation of the energetic biomass use (focus on co-digestion) 
  • model-based energy system analysis of the integration of biogas into the German/European energy system


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