Reference projects

Here is a small selection of our research projects.

  • The photo shows a rotor blade lying on the ground that has been sawed through transversely and is largely hollow. The shell is several centimeters thick and has a brownish core (balsa wood). In the central area, it is reinforced along the entire length of the rotor blade with a dark gray material (fiber-reinforced plastic). In addition, two internal walls (webs) made from balsa wood are present in the central area which also extend along the entire length of the rotor blade.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Peter Meinlschmidt

    The primary objective of the EU project RECREATE is the development of innovative technologies for promoting the profitable re-utilization of end-of-life composite components for industrial applications. The project is divided into different technological use cases and addresses a multitude of different target sectors such as wind energy or the automotive industry. The Fraunhofer institutes IWU and WKI are working in collaboration with further partners on the design and manufacture of reusable fiber-composite structures for a wind-power rotor blade.

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  • Wood is constantly gaining in importance as a natural and sustainable construction material for buildings. As yet, however, no satisfactory fire-protection solution exists for wood in exterior applications. A lack of flame retardancy is an exclusion criterion for wooden components in tall or large-scale buildings (building classes 4 and 5), unless an expensive and time-consuming approval is applied for in individual cases. In collaboration with our project partner, we are developing an environmentally friendly flame-retardant coating for wood which is exposed to the elements. This should not require an additional top coat and should be transparent when applied. As a result, we are helping to increase the utilization of wooden façades and other exterior components made from wood in the construction industry - for example in high-rise buildings, schools and hospitals.

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  • Die Computergrafik zeigt einen Holzbalken. Auf der Oberseite des Balkens liegt eine Platte, die sich aus drei Schichten zusammensetzt (von unten nach oben): Holzschalung, Klebschicht, Beton.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Christoph Pöhler

    Resource conservation and energy efficiency determine the future of construction. Wood is an environmentally friendly and versatile building material. In addition to its ecological assessment, it also offers some technical advantages. Innovative timber-hybrid systems have even better mechanical properties, higher durability and allow for slender structures. Therefore, they are not only more resource efficient but also expand the architectural scope. In this project, we investigate and optimize the long-term behavior of wood hybrid systems, thereby laying the foundation for their use in the construction industry. Our main goal is to significantly increase the use of wood in building construction.

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  • Leading-technology project: Bio-based fuel cells

    FC-Bio – Project start / November 01, 2021

    The 3D computer graphic shows the structure of a fuel-cell stack: two rectangular flat blocks (endplates) on the outside, with several thin plates of the same height and width in between. The overall form of the stack resembles an accordion.
    © ZBT GmbH

    In its Nationale Wasserstoffstrategie (national hydrogen strategy) in 2020, the German government committed to establishing green hydrogen as the key technology for the energy revolution. Demand for hydrogen fuel cells will therefore increase in the future, for example for the expansion of electromobility through fuel-cell vehicles, emergency power supply or as combined heat-and-power plants for the dual generation of electricity and heat for industry (process heat) as well as office and residential buildings (heating). Until now, fuel cells have mainly been comprised of metal and petrochemical plastics. The aim of this project with two research partners is a bio-based fuel-cell system. It should not only be more sustainable but also more compact, lighter and less expensive than conventional systems. To achieve this, the Fraunhofer WKI is developing high-performance wood-based materials and biopolymers for the production of electrically conductive compounds.

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  • The photo shows an office with three computer workstations, each with one person sitting and working. Corona viruses are "floating" in the air (graphic visualization).
    © Shutterstock / Fraunhofer WKI

    The Corona pandemic has demonstrated the importance of protecting people against infection through airborne pathogens in indoor environments. Air-purification systems can significantly contribute towards this. Currently, however, there is no uniform procedure for testing their effectiveness. We are developing a possible test standard in order to close this gap. In the future, this should facilitate the health evaluation of workplaces with regard to viruses and other airborne pathogens.

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  • The photo shows four wood-based panels with a variety of colors and textures.
    © Studio Sofia Souidi

    Shelves, cupboards and other items of furniture are often made from fiberboard. Currently, they are usually produced using petrochemical binders that emit hazardous formaldehyde. With support from the Fraunhofer WKI, designer Sofia Souidi is developing a formaldehyde-free material made from wood fibers and casein – a binder that was already being used as an adhesive many centuries ago. Mixed-in color pigments and granulates combined with 3D moldability enable a diverse range of design possibilities. The material is to be made, amongst other things, from recycled components and should itself be recyclable.

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  • The photo shows a cartridge from which a pale-gray foam is oozing, which is being used to seal a hole in a wall.
    © IGP Chemie

    The installation and rectification of construction elements in buildings with heightened fire-protection requirements is laborious. Commercially available building foams are combustible and have therefore not been permitted in such applications up until now. In collaboration with industry partners, we are developing a non-combustible filling and assembly foam of building-material Class A1. We are thereby simplifying the installation of fire doors and windows as well as the sealing of breakthroughs in fire-protection walls. Furthermore, the new foam should enable customized solutions for fire-protection insulation, for example in the insulation of building technology and the filling of three-dimensional molded parts.

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  • The photo shows a car from the front, as it crashes into a crash barrier made from wood. The crash barrier bulges out to the side by about 1 meter; a number of posts are torn out by the impact.
    © Fraunhofer WKI

    Crash barriers provide a crucial contribution towards safety in road traffic. In Germany, these are predominantly comprised of steel or reinforced concrete. In collaboration with project partners, we are developing a sustainable alternative: a crash-barrier system made from domestic wood species. It needs to be compatible with existing systems, just as durable and financially competitive.

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  • Bulky waste contains valuable raw materials. Due to the quantity and variety of the bulky waste that is accumulated, manual sorting is very laborious. In collaboration with project partners, we are developing a solution for the automated sorting of bulky waste in order to recover wood, wood-based materials and non-ferrous metals which is based on various image-acquisition and image-processing methods as well as artificial intelligence. We are thereby helping to ensure that a higher proportion of raw materials from bulky waste can be recycled. This conserves resources and improves economic efficiency.

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  • The photo shows a small pile of cereal-grain-shaped, brownish granules and a cable-shaped piece of filament in the same color.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Large-format 3D printing is playing an increasingly important role in the construction industry. By means of the additive manufacturing process, in particular complex and customized components can be manufactured with material and cost savings, can be freely designed and, if thermoplastic base materials are used, can be excellently recycled. As a result, completely new, highly efficient construction elements are also conceivable and feasible. In collaboration with research and industry partners, we are developing a sustainable material on the basis of biopolymers and natural fibers for large-format 3D printing. In doing so, we are enabling modern, sustainable architectural solutions.

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