Mainfranken’s economy is so green

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The bioeconomy wants to replace finite resources such as oil and coal with renewable raw materials. Innovative ideas and products also arise in Main Franconia.

Cucumber water instead of road salt against slippery roads, mosses that filter fine dust out of the air in cities, bacteria that do laundry and plastic-eating, a T-shirt made from living algae, a purse made from mushrooms instead of leather or animal feed made from insects and microalgae: these are all examples for bioeconomy.

The idea behind these ideas is to use the knowledge from biology to replace finite resources such as crude oil, natural gas, coal or peat with renewable raw materials and thus to produce more sustainably.

In the next few weeks, this editorial team will also deal with the topic of bioeconomy in a series and ask: How can economy and ecology be combined? How can consumption and production become sustainable?

Sustainability is discussed in public

Sustainability means not using more than can grow back, regenerate and be provided again. Because the earth as a habitat for humans and animals can only be exploited to a limited extent. This is also increasingly discussed in public.

The “Fridays for Future” movement started by Greta Thunberg also has supporters in Lower Franconia. The consequences of man-made climate change have a massive impact here as well: It is getting warmer and drier, the forest is suffering, there is a lack of water. The Würzburg climate researcher Heiko Paeth even describes Mainfranken as a “hotspot”.

Also active in Corona times: A young Fridays for Future activist giving a “certificate handover” to the city council and district council in Würzburg on the Mainwiesen. Photo: Thomas Obermeier

The corona outbreak in Germany’s largest slaughterhouse, Tönnies, fueled the debate about working and production conditions in the meat industry. Consumers ask where the meat comes from and how it is produced. It is one example of many that shows that consumption and production must change in many areas in order to be sustainable.

Innovative ideas change conventional products

In order for this to succeed, innovative ideas are required: How can plants bind more carbon dioxide (CO2)? What are the ways to avoid rubbish? How can waste be recycled? How can everyone be more environmentally conscious in everyday life?

The bioeconomy wants to find answers to these questions. It is about climate change, feeding a growing world population, dealing with finite resources, a secure supply of energy and the health of an aging population.

The algae T-shirt can generate as much oxygen as a six year old oak tree. A dowel that is half made of castor oil is more environmentally friendly than one made of petroleum. An extract from olive leaves can replace toxic acids and salts in tanning. Plant fertilizer can be made from waste such as coffee grounds, banana and egg shells.

In order to promote such ideas, the federal government started a funding program with a volume of 2.4 billion euros and for a period of six years based on the “National Bioeconomy Strategy”. Their goal is a “bio-based economy”.

Mainfranken has potential in the bioeconomy

Our series of articles, which is created in cooperation with the University of Würzburg and the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, is about these ideas. The Macromedia University in Cologne was also involved. Around 200 students have dealt with the bioeconomy and use examples to show what potential Mainfranken has here.

Your work is integrated into the “Science Year 2020/21” from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which this year also deals with bioecomics. In the past few years, things have been about digitization, working in the future or artificial intelligence.

“The bioeconomy is a central economic topic – globally, but above all for Germany as a business location. The topic moves people,” says Professor Kim Otto. He teaches business journalism at the University of Würzburg. The project offers the opportunity to discuss a major economic question and to bring it to the public.

Students present projects from the region

“It is a matter that is as realistic as it is complex,” adds Professor Lutz Frühbrodt, head of the master’s degree in specialist journalism and corporate communication at the University of Würzburg.

In their contributions, the students present projects from the region, including sustainable meat production in the Haßberge district or environmentally friendly meat alternatives from Bamberg, biological cleaning agents from Schweinfurt or biochar from Würzburg, for which residues from the chocolate industry are processed.

Professor Lutz Frühbrodt (left) from the University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt and Professor Kim Otto from the University of Würzburg are accompanying the bioeconomy project.

Professor Lutz Frühbrodt (left) from the University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt and Professor Kim Otto from the University of Würzburg are accompanying the bioeconomy project. Photo: Ronja Auerbacher

Researchers in the region are also working on how electromobility can be advanced as an environmentally friendly technology, what materials are made of sustainable building materials or how bioplastics can be made more durable and thus marketable.

Our series starts with the question of how the researchers at the Biozentrum of the University of Würzburg want to ensure that plants can absorb up to five times more CO2 from the air, which is harmful to the climate.

The exhibition “Bioeconomy” on board the “MS Wissenschaft” can be seen from September 30 to October 4, 2020 in Würzburg. More information at www.ms-wissenschaft.de

Bioökonomie series

Bioeconomy: Mainfranken's economy is so green

this article is the start of the Bioeconomy series, which will appear in random order over the coming weeks. Around 200 students from the University of Würzburg, the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt and the Macromedia University in Cologne are involved.

The project takes place as part of the “Science Year 2020/21” and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. You can find a multimedia report by the students at www.bioökonomie.info. More information is available at www.wissenschaftsjahr.de

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