Sustainability has formed the focus of the Fraunhofer WKI since its foundation in 1946. The founder and eponym, Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz, sought solutions for the optimal exploitation of raw wood - a commodity which had become scarce as a result of the war - as well as for the technical utilization of waste wood and small-dimensioned wood. He is regarded as a co-founder of the modern wood-based materials industry.
Today, at the Fraunhofer WKI, we examine a wide range of renewable raw materials and their holistic utilization from production through to recycling. One particular focus is thereby directed at sustainable lightweight construction solutions. Our holistic research approach also encompasses the development of material recycling processes, life cycle analyses and indoor air analysis.
Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially. Customers of the Fraunhofer WKI include companies from the wood and furniture industries, the construction industry, the chemical industry, the packaging industry and the automotive industry. With its research and development activities, the Fraunhofer WKI makes an important contribution towards the development of a bio-based recycling economy (bioeconomy).
Outstanding developments and services of the Fraunhofer WKI were and are:
- Innovative materials from chips and fibers
- Natural-fiber composite plastics and further innovative hybrid materials
- Environmentally-friendly and durable painting systems for furniture construction and exterior wood application
- Building products, wood constructions and holistic concepts for the production of light and environmentally-compatible buildings
- Process solutions for the recycling of production and post-consumer waste with the aim of achieving the highest possible level of reutilization
- The testing and reduction of formaldehyde emissions from wood-based materials and furniture
- The analysis of emissions from building materials and the reduction of VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) and odorous substances
- The testing and improvement of the properties of wood products through non-destructive methods such as thermography, ultrasound or magnetic resonance
As an accredited testing body, the Fraunhofer WKI performs material-testing and quality monitoring tasks. It assesses cases of damage and provides advice on questions of damage remediation. The quality assurance of wood products and other materials by means of non-destructive procedures such as thermography, ultrasound or computer tomography enhance the institute's spectrum.
With the HOFZET® Application Center for Wood Fiber Research and the integration into the Open Hybrid LabFactory, the important and promising new field of fiber composites is currently being systematically augmented and expanded. In collaboration with the Technische Universität Braunschweig, the ZELUBA® Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures is reinforcing the subject areas of building construction and lignocellulose-containing materials.
Since October 2010, the Fraunhofer WKI has been headed by Professor Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal. Professor Dr. Tunga Salthammer acts as his deputy. The institute was incorporated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in 1972 and, with currently around 175 permanent employees and an operating budget of 16 million euros, is one of the largest institutions for applied wood research in Europe. Around 8,600 m2 of offices, laboratories, technical center and workshops are available for the processing of the research contracts.
The Fraunhofer WKI is a member of the Fraunhofer Group for Materials and Components - MATERIALS, the Fraunhofer Alliances Vision, Building Innovation, Lightweight Design, and Technical Textiles, and the Fraunhofer Networks for Sustainability and Science, Art and Design as well as the Research Alliance for Cultural Heritage. Within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Fraunhofer WKI occupies a unique position as regards its holistic research approach to the material usage of wood and lignocellulosic materials.