Reference projects

Here is a small selection of our research projects.

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  • Das Foto zeigt eine 1 x 1 Meter große und 9 cm starke Platte mit beige-hellbrauner Farbe, die auf einem Tisch liegt. Im Hintergrund ist eine Plattenpresse zu sehen.
    © Fraunhofer WKI

    How can particularly sustainable thermal insulation materials be produced for buildings? With fungi! In collaboration with the Braunschweig-based start-up “YcoLabs”, we are using the organic growth of fungal mycelium as a natural binder in order to process plant residues such as hemp hurds, wood shavings or elephant-grass fibers into insulation materials. One particular advantage: The insulation materials can be allowed to grow into virtually any shape and size. This makes them very versatile. In order to demonstrate the performance capabilities of the fungal insulation materials, we are producing prototypes for an application example and testing them in a real operational environment. In subsequent pilot projects with the construction industry, we aim to further develop the insulation materials into a variety of marketable products. In this way, we are providing a contribution towards an increase in the proportion of renewable raw materials in buildings and, consequently, towards achieving climate- and environmental-protection targets.

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  • The photo shows large areas of forest with dead trees (predominantly spruce).
    © Fraunhofer WKI

    Heat, drought, storms, bark beetles: In the Harz National Park, climate change is leading to widespread forest damage. Reforestation will take decades. This has a significant impact on the timber and forestry industry, tourism and, consequently, the well-being of the regional population. In collaboration with research and regional partners, we are developing various scenarios for reforestation and are predicting their ecosystem services as well as their socio-economic effects above and beyond this. One approach involves replacing the dead spruce stands with more climate-resistant deciduous tree species. At the Fraunhofer WKI, we are investigating the achievable wood quality and yield as well as the suitability of the wood for the production of wood-based materials.

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  • The photo shows a piece of irregularly shaped, caramel-brown foam, a few centimeters in size, with fine, slightly irregular pores and a smooth surface.
    © Fraunhofer WKI

    The wood constituent lignin accrues in large quantities as a by-product of pulp and paper production. In collaboration with industrial partners, we are developing a high-performance bio-foam from lignin. In order to demonstrate its market potential, the lignin foam is being processed into molded parts for the automotive industry within the scope of the project. These parts are to be utilized as the core in car bumpers. Petrochemical foam materials could also be replaced by climate-friendly lignin foams in numerous other applications - for example in packaging, insulation materials or as a core material in wind-turbine rotor blades.

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  • Das Foto zeigt ein Stück Spanplatte neben einem Laborglas mit einer zähen, schwarzbraunen Flüssigkeit sowie einem kleinen Haufen Holzspäne.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Particle boards are a sustainable and inexpensive construction material for houses and furniture. They can be produced from regionally available wood residues and recycled waste wood. Through this research project, particle boards will become even more sustainable. In collaboration with industrial partners, we are developing particle boards that are produced using a new kind of adhesive which should not contain any health-critical formaldehyde and which consists entirely of biogenic raw materials. Furthermore, we are conducting tests to determine whether the particle boards can be produced using alternative types of wood, which will be increasingly available in the future as a result of forest restructuring.

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  • The photo shows a laboratory apparatus with a flask-shaped pressure vessel and, next to it, a measuring container filled with fine wood shavings.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Around 8 to 10 million metric tonnes of waste wood accrue in Germany every year. A good 80 percent of this is used directly for energy, i.e. incinerated. In order to make more efficient use of wood as a resource, it is necessary for significantly more waste wood to be materially re-used (material recycling). One obstacle is the fact that up to now, considerable effort has been required in order to determine possible contamination. A significant simplification is being developed within a project led by the University of Greifswald in collaboration with the Fraunhofer WKI and industrial companies: the optimization of “X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF)” for the sample type waste wood. The new analysis method should be quick and easy to use for all parties involved in the waste-wood value chain – for example recycling companies, wood-based material manufacturers and authorities.

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  • The photo shows a foamed half-shell with a cavity for the insulation of fittings
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Heating systems must be insulated in accordance with the German law on building-energy efficiency. For system components such as pump groups, valves or fittings, prefabricated insulation boxes made from polymer foams are available. These can be easily installed and subsequently removed. However, as they are of normal or low flammability, they cannot be fitted everywhere. Insulation using non-combustible materials has been laborious up until now. In collaboration with industry partners, we are developing a practicable solution: insulation boxes made from non-combustible foam that can be overhauled and recycled. Heating systems in building areas with increased fire-protection requirements could, as a result, be installed, maintained and modified more quickly.

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  • The photo shows an area of fenland with a large number of Typha plants and white harvesting boxes on a wooden walkway.
    © 3N Kompetenzzentrum

    Protecting moorlands, avoiding greenhouse-gas emissions and, at the same time, extracting valuable raw materials for house construction and horticulture: That is the aim of this model and demonstration project, which is being implemented in two model regions in the districts of Emsland and Cuxhaven by a total of 13 partners from research and industry. The task of the Fraunhofer WKI is to thereby develop, manufacture and test construction products on the basis of cattails in close collaboration with the Fraunhofer IBP.

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  • The photo shows a light-brown, rigid fabric (left) as well as the same type of fabric with a shiny surface and more intensive coloration (right).
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Organic sheets made from fiber-reinforced plastic can be formed using processes similar to those applied in steel- or aluminum-sheet processing. Until now, primarily glass fibers – as well as carbon or aramid fibers and petrochemical plastics – have been utilized for production. In collaboration with the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB) at Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, we are developing a sustainable and competitive alternative: bio organic sheets made from natural fibers and bioplastics with improved material properties and a high level of recyclability. Diverse products could thereby become more sustainable - including vehicles, housings, cladding and sports equipment. Thanks to the good availability of inexpensive raw materials, bio organic sheets also have strong market potential.

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  • The photomontage shows a tree trunk, a mound of brown lignin powder and the symbolic, graphic representation of a chair.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Small city apartments, house moves, and changes in living and working circumstances: These days, furniture has to fulfill demanding requirements in terms of functionality and flexibility. In collaboration with research partners and companies, we develop furniture that meets these requirements and is furthermore sustainable. The starting point is the new and further development of compounds, foams and imitation leather made from lignin - a plant-based residual material from industry. The aim is the creation of modular, lightweight furniture that can be easily disassembled, transported, repaired and repurposed. In other words, the service life of the material should be as long as possible. A further focus of the project is the recyclability of the furniture - from entire assemblies through to the single-type separation and preparation of the individual materials. Possibilities for the transfer of materials to other areas of application – such as the fashion industry and the motorhome sector – are also being considered.

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  • The photo shows a metal framework in the open air, equipped with a large number of wooden parts which are coated in different colors and inclined at an angle towards the sky.
    © Hanno Keppel

    More and more houses are being insulated by means of external thermal insulation composite systems (ETICS). Whilst this saves energy, the façades are increasingly being colonized by algae. This is not only detrimental to the aesthetics but also to the diffusion capacity of the surface coating. Moisture damage can thereby result. In order to reduce algae growth, façade coatings containing biocides have often been used up to now. The problem here is that the biocides are leached out within a few years. Consequently, environmental pollution and increasing algae growth on the façade can occur. In collaboration with industry partners, we are developing a bio-based, weather-resistant façade paint that will physically prevent microbial growth. It could provide ETICS façades with long-term protection against algae - without any biocides whatsoever.

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