Sustainability since 1946

“We have been developing resource-saving and climate-friendly materials and technologies for more than 70 years.”

Prof. Dr. Ing. Bohumil Kasal, Director of the Fraunhofer WKI

 

At the Fraunhofer WKI, we can look back over a long tradition of research using sustainable materials. Back in his day, founder and eponym Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz was already searching for solutions in order to be able to optimally exploit the supply of raw wood, which had become scarce due to the war, and to enable the utilization of waste wood and small-dimensioned wood. Today, we investigate a wide range of renewable raw materials and their holistic exploitation. Our goal is to create alternatives to the use of fossil raw materials. With our research, we are laying important foundations for a bio-based economic cycle - from raw resources, through the development of innovative materials and their utilization, and on to recycling.

The four topics of our sustainability cycle

Raw materials

Fotomontage mit Nahaufnahmen von verschiedenen Bio-Rohstoffen wie Ligninpulver und Naturfasergarn
© Fraunhofer WKI

Wood is a traditional material, which we are guiding into the future by means of modern technology. In addition to wood, we conduct research here at the Fraunhofer WKI into a diverse range of renewable raw materials, for example flax fibers and hemp fibers, lignin, sugar and agricultural waste. In dialogue with industry and consumers, we develop materials and methods with which renewable raw materials can be utilized more efficiently and more resource-sparingly. Within the framework of a holistic approach, we specifically select the most suitable raw resources with their positive properties for materials in order to produce innovative materials therefrom.

Materials & technologies

Fotomontage mit Nahaufnahmen von verschiedenen Bio-Materialien wie Holzschaum
© Fraunhofer WKI

We develop novel, high-performance materials on the basis of renewable raw resources. This also includes the further and new development of suitable manufacturing processes, for instance in the field of additive manufacturing (3D printing) or fiber modification. Our outstanding strength is the development of composite materials and hybrid systems, with which we are able to specifically combine the positive properties of differing materials. These are particularly suitable for environmentally-friendly lightweight-construction solutions, for example in buildings and vehicles.

Utilization

Fotomontage mit Nahaufnahmen von verschiedenen biobasierten Baumaterialien und sowie einer biobasierten Autotür
© Fraunhofer WKI

A sustainable and effective utilization of resources can only be achieved if sustainability standards are defined and specified for their application. Our goal is to promote the exploitation of renewable raw materials in the most diverse range of sectors. Furthermore, our services and analyses, for example regarding building materials or indoor air, help in the verification of existing standards.

Recycling

Icon - Recycling
© Fraunhofer WKI

Even renewable resources are not infinitely available. During the development of new materials and products, we strive to achieve the highest possible level of recycling after the end of use. We design customized recycling processes for existing products – for example for wooden components, insulation materials, old bakery products or wind-turbine rotor blades. Our goal is to enable multiple to infinite use of the utilized raw materials (cascade utilization) and, as a consequence, to reduce the need for new resources.