Innovation-booster sustainability – Fraunhofer Future Foundation and Fraunhofer WKI bring foundations and research closer together

Press release /

On 10th May 2022, representatives of research-funding foundations embraced the opportunity to experience live science at the Fraunhofer WKI in the new “Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®”. Addressing the topic of “Together achieving more: Research funding for sustainable development”, they participated in a discussion with researchers from the Fraunhofer WKI and with the Fraunhofer Future Foundation.

The photo shows Professor Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal and Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans-Jörg Bullinger at the ZELUBA®.
© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
The Director of the Fraunhofer WKI, Professor Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal (right), and the Chairman of the Fraunhofer Future Foundation, Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans-Jörg Bullinger (left), presented science live at the ZELUBA®.

What can foundations do in order to anchor sustainability even more securely in science and research? How can they contribute towards ensuring that sustainability goals become an innovation booster for the German economy? These were the key questions in a lively exchange between the participants at the event, which was jointly hosted by the Fraunhofer Future Foundation and the Fraunhofer WKI.

The venue, the Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®, was a source of inspiration. The Director of the Fraunhofer WKI, Professor Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal, reported: “At our newly opened ZELUBA®, scientists are working every day on the creation of high-performance materials and products from wood and other renewable raw resources. We provided an exclusive insight into current application examples for the use of wood and other renewable raw materials in the fields of construction and mobility.” The researchers demonstrated, amongst other items, a weaving machine which utilizes natural-fiber-reinforced lightweight materials in order to manufacture parts for vehicle components and wood and concrete reinforcements. Furthermore, visitors were able to observe how the core for a sustainable stand-up paddleboard is created from the balsa wood recovered from discarded wind-turbine rotor blades. In a live simulation, the guests experienced the testing of the vibration behavior of new construction systems with the aid of a shaking table. In the dynamic testing facility, individual components and entire constructions are examined with regard to their structural dynamic properties - to ensure maximum safety of buildings or vehicles against wind loads, earthquakes or vibrations.

For the Fraunhofer Future Foundation, the event served the clarification of the question as to which success factors are decisive for the promotion of sustainable research through foundations. “For us, sustainability means living in an ecologically intact, socially balanced and economically sustainable world. We firmly believe that research can contribute towards the positive transformation of our society. In order for this transformation to succeed, we need all participants involved in the innovation process. For this reason, we want to network foundations and research. With this event, we are bringing together the pivotal innovation drivers for an exchange which will hopefully have an impact that extends far beyond this day,” explained the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Fraunhofer Future Foundation, Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans-Jörg Bullinger.

The background of the Fraunhofer WKI

Sustainability through the utilization of renewable raw materials has formed the focus at the Fraunhofer WKI for 75 years. The institute, with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg, specializes in process engineering, natural-fiber composites, binders and coatings, wood and emission protection, quality assurance of wood products, material and product testing, recycling procedures and the utilization of organic building materials and wood in construction. Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially.

The background of the Fraunhofer Future Foundation

The Fraunhofer Future Foundation supports and designs the transformation to a sustainable economic approach and lifestyle. Its funding enables the development of products, services and business models which provide an important contribution towards solving global challenges. It is thereby guided by the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). In the implementation of its projects, the Foundation places great emphasis on cooperation with science, society, politics and industry. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, with its excellent researchers and first-class infrastructure, forms the fundament for the work of the Foundation.

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