FABRICFood and Biobased Research & Innovation Centre


Dr.ir. Ben Langelaan
Bornse Weilanden 9, 6708 WG Wageningen

FABRIC is the working title for the research infrastructure that enables technological innovations in the domain of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research: healthy food in a sustainable and biobased world. By combining the current lab- and pilot facilities with a new research building, a unique and world leading technology centre will be established to explore the potential of biomass to fulfil all (future) needs with respect to food, feed, materials, chemicals and fuels. FABRIC comprises research infrastructure related to Postharvest Technology, Biorefinery Technology, Food Processing Technology, Chain Design and System Analysis, Consumer Research, Biobased Chemistry and Renewable Materials. Located in the heart of the Wageningen ecosystem and Food Valley, FABRIC connects the fundamental and applied science of Wageningen UR to other stakeholders in the knowledge chain, including corporations, SMEs and start-ups. FABRIC focusses on TRL 4-9 on lab to pilot scale.

FABRIC brings together the necessary research infrastructure for realizing the highly interlinked transitions towards a circular biobased economy, sustainable food production and healthy food composition and consumption. The facilities of FABRIC are based on the vision that sustainably produced biomass will become the source for all future needs with respect to food, feed, materials, chemicals and fuels. For this, FABRIC develops and applies technologies for the development of new zero-emission value chains, typically focusing on a TRL between 4–9 on lab to pilot scale. With the investment in a new research building, an infrastructure of 5.330 m2 (excl. offices) will be realized: 2.772 m2 lab space, 1.711 m2 pilot hall and 847 m2 for storage. More specific, the facilities include:
• Postharvest technology: labs and storage facilities for physiological research on biomass (incl. volatiles and flavours); controlled atmosphere treatment cells to mimic logistics on small and large scale (reefer); a computer vision & robotics lab with various set-ups for AI, sensing and robotics (e.g., for non-destructive measurements, human-machine interaction, high speed quality assessment).
• Biorefinery and conversion technologies: pre-treatment of biomass with dry and wet grinding technologies, biomass extruders, pressure refiners and chemical reactors (0.5 to 200 litres); isolation of components, removal of water, solvents and pollutants with screw and belt filter presses, decanters and centrifuges, cyclones, distillation and crystallization technologies and, for mild separation, membrane filters and columns for chromatography; chemical, microbial and enzymatic conversion in batch reactors (0.2 to 10 litres) or continuous plug–flow reactor.
• Food Processing Technologies: research facilities for sustainably produced, high-quality and safe food products, e.g., mild preservation technologies (High Pressure, Pulsed Electric Field, electromagnetic heating), innovative structuring technologies (shear cell, 3D printing, extrusion), a product development lab coupled to consumer research facilities, and two MLII-certified labs for microbiology research.
• Biobased Chemicals technology includes facilities for the chemical (e.g. high pressure reactors, plug flow reactor, polymerization & solid state post-condensation reactors) and biotechnological conversion (fermentors on a scale of 0,5 – 1000L, facilities for molecular biology and metabolic pathway engineering) of biomass feedstock into bulk and fine chemicals, including the synthesis of building blocks;
• Biobased materials facilities to formulate and process biobased polymers into various materials, such as bioplastics, coatings and adhesives, resins and composites (e.g., extrusion, film forming equipment, press & injection molding equipment), facilities to test thermal and mechanical material properties (e.g. DSC, TGA, tensile strength, stiffness, impact resistance, gas barrier properties, rheological properties).
• Separation and recycling technologies (mechanical, chemical) to valorise waste- and side streams, and post-use materials for closing of carbon-containing material loops (including plastics and textiles).
• Consumer and Health Research comprises virtual infrastructure and facilities like consumer test panels, a mood room for implicit (e.g. eye tracking, heartrate) and explicit data on food choice; gut cell lines and digestion and fermentation simulations like INFOGEST and SHIME for in-vitro lead finding and screening tests, animal models and a state-of-the-art human nutritional clinical trial facility.
• Supporting labs for technology development on small-scale, advanced analysis methods e.g., GPC, LC-MS, MALDI-TOF, XRT, physical, chemical, rheological characterization.
• Digital infrastructure to allow for a “digital twin approach”, e.g. by collecting research data, development of innovative models, sensor development, advanced process control, chain design and system engineering.

Aansluiting bij strategische ontwikkelingen
Agri & Food
Circulaire economie en grondstoffenefficiëntie: duurzame circulaire impact