Research infrastructure

Photo: Manuel Gutjahr

Research infrastructure

ATB is equipped with an efficient infrastructure for both basic and transfer-oriented research. Well-equipped research sites and facilities for biotechnological and chemical-physical conversion processes to produce materials (bio-based chemicals and biochar) and to generate energy (biogas) are used for research questions within the framework of biorefinery and cascade utilisation concepts for biomass. 

Since 2019, the latest ATB research building CIRCLE has been expanding the infrastructure (see photo).
CIRCLE stands for 'Center for Research and Communication in a Circular BioEconomy'. With 25 laboratories and 23 offices, the research building offers workplaces for about 60 employees, especially in the fields of microbiology and IT. A 330 m² dividable conference room, another two meeting rooms as well as a 125 m² cafeteria offer space for knowledge transfer and communication. 

The larger research facilities at a glance: 

Research site Marquardt - Fieldlab for Digital Agriculture
Since July 1, 2015, ATB operates a modern equipped experimental station at the Marquardt site, about 6.5 km northwest of the institute. The 'Fieldlab for Digital Agriculture' offers on more than 20 ha comprehensive possibilities for working on scientific questions, in particular for developping and testing digital technologies for precision plant production. The TechnologyGarden, a model facility for sensor-based precision horticulture, is located here.

Pilot plant biobased chemicals
The exemplary chemical produced is lactic acid - a basic chemical for biobased polymers. Bibased chemicals are produced in a continuous fermentation process from vegetable raw materials or residues. The pilot plant, which has been realised on a pre-industrial scale, enables process optimisation from raw material to conversion and the provision of product samples with specific properties. The aim is to ensure that the process is stable and economically competitive on the basis of a diverse range of raw materials.

Pilot plant fibre plant processing
In the facility, fibre plants such as hemp, nettle, hops or flax can be processed into various fibre-based materials. Low-weight and environmentally friendly produced, plant fibers are a sustainable alternative for example as reinforcement in composite materials. The aim is a significant reduction of process costs and plant investments while ensuring high quality of product and process.

Biogas lab
The pilot plant provides the opportunity to work on research questions along the entire biogas process chain - from the optimisation of substrates to the microbiology in the fermenter, novel reactor types, process monitoring and control up to the exploitation of the fermentation residue.

Biochar lab
ATB operates its own biochar lab for producing biochar on a laboratory and pilot plant scale. This includes the processes pyrolysis and hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) as well as the characterisation of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the biochar. 

Boundary layer wind tunnel
With 2.3 m height and 3.0 m width, the wind tunnel permits studies on flow and dispersion processes outside and in agricultural buildings. Equipment includes measuring technologies such as laser light-section, flame ionization detector, constant temperature and laser Doppler anemometer. 

Fresh produce lab
Excellently equipped laboratories (e.g. MALDI-TOF/MS, flow cytometry, confocal laser scanning microscopy) enable the analysis and evaluation of fresh food as well as new methods for processing, transportation, storage and presentation – from laboratory-scale to practice.

Drying lab 
Our drying lab is the experimental basis for the research and development of energy-efficient and product-friendly processes for the preservation (drying, cooling and ventilation) and refinement of agricultural products.. 

Library
ATB's specialist library offers comprehensive collections of scientific magazines, journales and books. The library provides a modern reading room with five OPAC workplaces. The ATB-library is a reference library for the institute’s employees. The collection reflects the institute's research areas in the field of agricultural, environmental and process engineering.

More information on ATB's research infrastructure can be found under areas of competence.