The Distillery for Research and Training at the University of Hohenheim has been reopened after the completion of renovation work costing around 1.2 million euros. The distillery is now equipped with a computer-operated process-control system and modern sensors, all state-of-the-art technology for the fermentation processes at Hohenheim. The new distillery pilot plant has a fermentation room for work with genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified yeasts can be tested for their suitability for the production of bioethanol from new raw materials.
The building, which is located on Gartenstraße, currently houses two distilleries. The spirits produced by the University of Hohenheim are well known in Baden-Württemberg and have been awarded numerous prizes. However, spirit research is only a small part of the university's research activities. The major field of research of Hohenheim's fermentation technologists is the industrial production of new biofuels. "Second-generation biofuels are no longer produced from sugar and starch," said Prof. Dr. Kölling, head of the Distillery for Research and Training, speaking at the opening ceremony. "The use of cellulose-containing waste and recycling material has huge potential and our goal is to be able to use these materials."
The newly equipped fermentation room, which is also approved for S1 (safety stage 1) work involving research on genetically modified yeasts, will help the team achieve their goals. Prof. Dr. Kölling: "Our objective is to modify yeasts so that they can process second-generation raw materials." Problems with building statics meant that the old plant had to be taken apart, as its 4000 - 5000-litre tanks put too much pressure on the floor of the building. It would only have been possible to relocate the old plant by cutting it into smaller pieces. "Reconstruction would have been far too costly and it was not worth the effort," explained Prof. Dr. Kölling adding that a more realistic plan was to replace the old plant with a new one with 2500-litre tanks. "The necessary modifications made it possible to completely rebuild the plant. We did not want to work on a 1970s production scale any more, so we opted for a smaller plant. However, the new plant is big enough to simulate industry-oriented applications."