After a construction period of almost two years, the Chancellor of Germany, Dr Angela Merkel, has officially opened the new Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes (CBP) in Leuna.

The main aim of the CBP is to transition innovative biotechnological and chemical processes to industrial-scale production, thus enabling companies to manufacture basic chemical products from regenerative raw materials. Linde affiliate Linde Engineering Dresden GmbH (LEDD) was responsible for engineering the process units, the supporting infrastructure and necessary media and utilities. LEDD was commissioned by the Fraunhofer Institute to plan and build five pilot-scale process units, known as modules, for the CBP in December 2009, following an EU-wide tender.

“The CBP is an important milestone on the journey to advance green technologies. We are delighted that Linde Engineering Dresden was chosen as the general technology contractor. This has given us the chance to make a key contribution to a project that is highly challenging from both a technical and organisational perspective,” states Professor Dr Aldo Belloni, Member of the Executive Board of Linde AG. “By paving the way for a cross-connect between established and bio-based process steps, the CBP is opening up attractive growth opportunities for Linde’s site in Leuna and the region as a whole.”

As Fraunhofer CBP is part of the BioEconomy cluster in central Germany, German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Dr Reiner Haseloff, Minister-President of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, also took the opportunity to visit the cluster. It primarily focuses on producing chemicals, materials and energy from wood and won the third round of the Leading-Edge Cluster Competition held by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) at the start of the year. As one of the cluster’s key partners, Linde is involved in further bio-economy projects.

Today, plastics, paints, adhesives and many key interim products for the chemicals industry are still made primarily using crude oil. Regenerative raw materials can help reduce dependency on crude oil and cut CO2 emissions. However, many of these processes – which have the advantage of not conflicting with food and livestock supplies – have only been tested under lab conditions. The new CBP and the BioEconomy cluster in Leuna aim to bridge the gap between laboratory and industrial-scale production, paving the way for wider use of regenerative raw materials.

For Linde, the Leuna site is not only significant for the development and scaling of new technologies, but also as one of the largest and most modern gases production centres in Europe. The Linde Group produces industrial gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, various rare gases and hydrogen at the site, supplying customers based at the Leuna chemical park and across Germany. The company has invested over EUR 500 million in the site since 1991, building, for example, a modern Remote Operations Centre for air separation plants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as a TÜV-certified, green hydrogen production plant based on regenerative raw materials.