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Millions in funding for plasma research in agriculture and food production

Greifswald, 29 April 2024

The Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) is strengthening its research in the fields of agriculture, bioeconomy and the environment with millions of euros in funding from the German federal government and the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The funds will be used for personnel, technical equipment and three new professorships at the Universities of Greifswald and Rostock and the University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg. The INP, based in Greifswald, is Europe's largest non-university research institute in the field of low-temperature plasma physics.

Over the next few years, the INP will receive additional research funding from the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of a so-called "small strategic special act". "The funding will enable us to establish an internationally leading location in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the field of plasma technologies for agriculture, food production and biogenic residues," explains Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Weltmann, Chairman of the Board and Scientific Director of the INP. "We focus on the development of environmentally friendly technologies that not only enrich research and teaching, but also create future-oriented jobs".

Plasma technology: the key to sustainable solutions

Plasma technology can be found in many everyday products, from smartphones to cars. In addition to basic research, the INP also conducts application-oriented research that leads to patents and company start-ups to bring new technologies to the market. In the field of medical applications, such as wound healing, the INP has already established an internationally recognised research cluster in north-east Germany, from which several companies have emerged.

In agriculture, research at the INP also shows considerable potential for plasma applications. For example, the treatment of seeds with plasma makes it possible to remove harmful micro-organisms. This makes it possible to dispense with chemical seed treatments, thus protecting the environment. Research is also underway into the use of plasma-treated water to stimulate plant metabolism and increase resistance to drought and heat. Plasma technology is also proving its worth in food production, extending the shelf life of products without the need for chemical preservatives. In addition, plasma treatment of biomass in biogas plants improves yields, and plasma synthesis enables the production of green fuels from the carbon dioxide produced. Plasma technology has also been shown to deliver gentler and more effective results than conventional methods in the extraction of pharmaceutical raw materials from algae and botanicals.

Focus on scientific training

The training of young scientists is a key success factor for the establishment of new research topics. To this end, the INP is planning three new professorships in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Together with the Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, a professorship for plasma food processing is to be filled in 2024. The process to establish a junior professorship in plasma agricultural technology at the University of Rostock will also begin in 2024. Together with the University of Greifswald, a junior professorship in plasma agronomy is planned for 2025. "These new professorships are essential to increase the momentum in our research areas and to make a sustainable scientific and economic contribution to north-east Germany," explains Weltmann.

More staff and better equipment

Thanks to funding from the federal and state governments, up to twelve additional specialist positions can be filled at the INP. For its research, the INP uses specially equipped laboratories that have been rented in the newly opened Z4 - Centre for Life Sciences and Plasma Technology in Greifswald. Extensive experiments with plants and micro-organisms are possible here. "With the new human, technical and spatial resources, we can intensively promote the use of plasma technology in agriculture and food production. I am convinced that this will make a significant contribution to environmental protection," adds Weltmann.


For further information
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP)
Stefan Gerhardt // Communications Department
Phone: +49 3834 554 3903 // stefan.gerhardtinp-greifswaldde
Felix-Hausdorff-Strasse 2 // 17489 Greifswald //


Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology
Felix-Hausdorff-Str. 2
17489 Greifswald

Stefan Gerhardt

Tel.: +49 3834 - 554 3903
Fax: +49 3834 - 554 301