Areas of Research

For many years research and development work by our experts was limited to the footwear industry. Today our research activities extend far beyond footwear. Orthopaedic engineering, biogas, thermal pressure hydrolysis, and renewable energy represent just a few of our numerous areas of research.

Footwear and Orthopaedic Technology

Footwear and leather number among PFI’s oldest areas of expertise. We frequently draw on a wealth of knowledge and experience accrued in the course of 60 years in our approach to research projects. The development of modern technologies, innovative solutions, and new applications of materials are key areas of activity. Our areas of research include: 

  • Protective and safety footwear
  • Slip resistance of soles and floor coverings
  • Cleaning and hygienisation of footwear
  • Optimum wearing comfort
  • Modern manufacturing techniques / Industry 4.0
  • Therapeutic aids for outpatient rehabilitation
  • Antimicrobial substances and bacteria-repellent
    materials in medical and footwear technology

In our research projects weattach great importance to solutions for people with limited mobility and
to the safety and comfort of workwear.

Examples of completed projects can be found here.

Practice-oriented Research on Biomass Utilisation

Key areas of our research in biotechnology include biogas and Power2Gas engineering, biomass digestion, and fermentation processes for the production of biobased products. We investigate the effects and efficiency of digestion and pre-treatment methods developed to make residual biomass such as lignocellulose usable as feedstock for biogas production. Specially developed test and pilot plants and bioreactors for static and dynamic fermentation tests permit studies to be carried out under practically relevant conditions. We also conduct research on enzymes and trace element solutions to enhance the degree of digestion and stability in the biogas process, as well as on processes for the production and storage of biomethane (keyword Power2Gas).

Thermal Pressure Hydrolysis. We use Thermal Pressure Hydrolysis (TPH) in the production of sugar-enriched hydrolysates from lignified biomass. The primary focus is on the preparation of lignocellulose for subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis.

Enzymatic Hydrolysis. We are currently investigating new processes for the production of cellulolytic enzymes in order to optimise saccharification of cellulose. Our goal is to harness novel fermentation processes (keyword: on-site enzyme production) and optimised production strains to supply especially effective enzymes much more cost-effectively than has hitherto been possible.

Fermentative Production of Biobased Products. We investigate the production of polyhydroxybutyric acid (PHB) and other polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) with the aid of certain bacterial strains. The resulting thermoplastic biopolymers have excellent material properties, which can compete on equal terms with petroleum-based polyethylene or polypropylene. In addition, we are also working hard on the fermentative production of platform chemicals (e.g. succinic acid) and of new biofuels from waste flows and residues from food production and agriculture.

C5-Fermentation. Other major research issues include fermentation processes with pentoses from hydrolysed hemicelluloses. Production of high-value sugar alcohols and of platform chemicals from xylose are the primary goals of these activities.

Further information about our research in biotechnology can be found under:

Examples of completed projects can be found here.

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