Industrial Applications

Mining and recycling rare earth elements

Nothing works in electromobility or wind power without powerful permanent magnets. They owe their good magnetic properties to the chemical elements neodymium and dysprosium, which belong to the group of rare earth elements (REE). However, these REE are in short supply on the world market and prices have been rising steadily for years. They are also referred to as critical raw materials because it is not certain that they will be available in sufficient quantities in the medium and long term. The development of future technologies will also depend on the availability of these REE in sufficient quantities. 

Rare earth elements (REE), which are in great demand, can only be separated from each other at great expense. In the future, we hope to make this separation much easier with the help of a specific protein produced by plants. By selectively modulating its binding sites, recombinant proteins can be adapted to bind the REE in a highly specific manner, effectively separating them through so-called selective binding. 

Conventional hydrometallurgical separation processes for rare earth elements (REE) use organic solvents such as petroleum and toxic phosphates and require tens, sometimes hundreds, of steps to obtain highly pure individual rare earth oxides. Not only does this process use a huge amount of chemicals, it often has a high environmental impact and a very large carbon footprint, which advanced technologies such as electric mobility and wind turbines still need to reduce before they can be considered truly carbon neutral. Biotechnology solutions, especially when implemented with scalable, large-scale and sustainable technologies such as BionFarming plant biotechnology, make the difference in this area of industrial application, which can have a direct impact on the entire life cycle of modern advanced technologies. Precise separation is crucial not only for primary extraction, but also for making it much easier or even possible to recycle these rare earths from waste in the electronics industry. In this way, recombinant proteins can help to close the life cycle and enable a circular economy, transferring cradle-to-cradle applications to non-biological systems. 

Models for the high efficiency of selective binding by recombinant proteins can be found in nature, e.g. in bacteria or other micro-organisms with the special ability to bind metals, so that the modification and refinement of the binding can be seen as a bionic solution modelled on nature. BionFarming, your expert for the development and production of recombinant proteins using plants, stands for exactly this form of biotechnological bionics. 

Are you interested in BionFarming’s special services and how they can improve your processes? Then take a look at our white paper on the application of our technology in an industrial environment.  

Purify and recycle nanoplastics

Tiny plastic particles that end up in the natural material cycle are a growing problem for the environment and human health. Specialised proteins produced by plants that can remove plastics such as polystyrene, polypropylene or polyethylene from liquids at high speed and reuse them can help solve this problem. 

BionFarming’s innovation work focuses on the development of peptides that detect and specifically precipitate microplastics and nanoplastics in drinking water, aquaculture products and wastewater. In a high-throughput process, the different types of plastics are sorted, quantified and, if possible, recycled. 

Selective binding of recombinant proteins enables not only the separation of rare earths, but also the detection and processing of plastics. Using a similar principle of highly specific binding, it is possible to bind microscopically small plastics and then, for example, selectively precipitate them from liquids. The specific binding function is complemented by the ability to cause precipitation under certain conditions. The latter function, which BionFarming has also tested in other applications, makes the purification process much simpler and less expensive, as the actual separation from the aqueous phase is now virtually automatic. In this way, wastewater can be effectively cleaned and the discharge of plastics into the environment can be avoided. The recovered plastics can then be recycled, as the proteins used are easily soluble and environmentally neutral as biological tools. The proteins used could also be reused. 

The development of a fusion protein with IPT© properties enables rapid and inexpensive purification, so that the pure protein can be obtained shortly after harvesting the plants for the formulation of a specific cleaning solution. Due to the high specificity of the protein used, consumption is low. 

Are you interested in BionFarming’s special services and how they can improve your processes? Then take a look at our white paper on the application of our technology in an industrial environment.  

Product Pipeline


Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is a congenital genetic defect for which there is currently no cure. BionFarming is in the process of developing plant-derived AAT, which is not only a direct substitute, but also replaces a very cost-intensive production with a more cost-effective plant product. Based on the plant-made AAT, BionFarming has started the development of a COVID therapeutic. 

Vegan Trastuzumab

Trastuzumab is one of the best-tested and most proven anti-body therapies for breast cancer and other cancers. With the first plant-based biosimilar, BionFarming will create an alternative for all patients who want an animal-free therapy. 


Enable recycling as in nature

  • Closed water-, fertiliser- and energy-cycles
  • 100% use of the cultivars, even the roots become usableProductivity increase of over 50% by utilising the roots
  • Naturally degradable residues which act as permanent carbon sink