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Renewable raw resources for insulation and other materials: Fraunhofer WKI conducts research for the future

How can finite resources be conserved and dependency on fossil resources reduced? Renewable raw materials are one answer. Researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI are developing new materials and components made from such materials as wood, flax and hemp fibers and fungal mycelium. Together with the Verband Dämmstoffe aus nachwachsenden Rohstoffen e.V. (association for insulation materials made from renewable raw resources, vdnr), the Fraunhofer WKI has been selected to present its expertise in the field of insulation materials at the “Woche der Umwelt” (Week of the Environment) in Berlin on the 4th and 5th of June 2024. The expertise ranges from raw-material extraction, through insulation production and its application in the construction industry, and on to recycling and the utilization of recycled raw materials for second-use products. Scientists will be presenting insulation materials made from plant-based raw resources for applications in the construction sector.
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Lightweight-construction materials made from renewable raw resources are of prime importance at the Fraunhofer WKI

Lightweight construction is considered a key technology of the future. It provides an important contribution towards increasing competitiveness and achieving climate and sustainability goals. Lightweight materials, components and products require less transportation energy and often also smaller amounts of raw resources. Lightweight products made from renewable raw materials can be particularly sustainable. Even renewable raw materials will, however, become scarce if they are used to create an ever-increasing number of products and the world’s population continues to grow. Researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI are developing resource-efficient lightweight-construction solutions using renewable raw materials: from the development of alternative raw materials from climate-adapted ecosystems and plant residues, through material and process development, component design and quality control, and on to cascade utilization and recycling.
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Vehicle underbodies made from natural fibers and recycled plastics

In collaboration with industrial partners, researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI have developed a vehicle underbody made from natural fibers and recycled plastics for automotive construction. The component fulfills the stringent technical requirements in the underbody area and could replace conventional lightweight vehicle underbodies in the future. With this development, the climate and environmental balance is optimized throughout the entire product life cycle. The focus at the Fraunhofer WKI was directed at the development of the materials for injection molding as well as the hydrophobization of flax and hemp fibers for natural-fiber-reinforced mixed-fiber non-wovens.
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Hannover Messe: BMEL and BMBF present research highlights from the Fraunhofer WKI in the “Bioeconomy Showcase”

Two research highlights from the Fraunhofer WKI will be on display at the Hannover Messe from the 22nd to the 26th of April 2024 in the “Schaufenster Bioökonomie” (Bioeconomy Showcase): thermal-insulation bricks filled with beech-wood fibers and a formaldehyde-free bio-adhesive for the production of wood-based materials. The “Bioeconomy Showcase” is a joint stand operated by Project Management Jülich (PtJ) and the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (FNR). Research results from current bio-economy projects funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will be presented here.
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Hannover Messe: Fraunhofer WKI presents lightweight products made from wood and hybrid materials

The Fraunhofer WKI will be presenting solutions for lightweight construction using renewable raw materials at the Hannover Messe from the 22nd to the 26th of April 2024. A wood-fiber-based molded part demonstrates the potential of lightweight hybrid materials and was produced using an automated molding machine. The process offers possibilities for the precision-fit production of complexly shaped components, furniture or insulation materials. Furthermore, the performance capabilities of renewable raw materials will be demonstrated with a ceiling system module on the basis of wood foam. The module can be utilized for the renovation of suspended ceilings in old buildings. The mosaic-like coffered ceilings exhibit a load-bearing capacity comparable to reinforced concrete, but are significantly lighter. The innovations can be seen on the Fraunhofer stand (Hall 2, Stand B24).
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Hannover Messe: Fraunhofer WKI presents innovative materials and components made from renewable raw materials

From raw materials to recycling - at the Hannover Messe from the 22nd to the 26th of April 2024, the Fraunhofer WKI will be presenting new application possibilities for renewable raw materials at the Fraunhofer joint stand (Hall 2, Stand B24). The examples range from a wooden crash barrier for road traffic through to sustainable concrete construction materials made from residual materials. They demonstrate the potential of renewable raw materials for the circular economy.
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Bio-based circular economy: Fraunhofer WKI researches the reutilization of wood

Researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI are pursuing the goal of creating alternatives to the use of fossil raw materials. Through their work, they are laying important foundations for a circular bioeconomy – from raw resources, through the development of innovative materials and their utilization, and on to recycling. Within the framework of the federal ministry of agriculture’s call for funding applications “Recyclinggerechte Verwendung von Holz” (Recycling-friendly utilization of wood), the Fraunhofer WKI is involved in five of the six research projects. The focus of the projects is aimed at the development of cross-sector solutions for the resource-efficient use of wood, the circular economy and climate protection.
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World's tallest wooden tower for wind turbines – Fraunhofer WKI advises on bonding

For the company Modvion AB in Gothenburg, researchers from the Fraunhofer WKI accompanied the bonding of the first wooden tower for commercial wind turbines on the construction site and advised the company on complex bonding processes. The so-called "Wind of Change Tower" of the energy provider Varberg Energi AB was inaugurated on 4 March 2024.
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Dr. Steven Eschig takes over as head of the “Binders and Coatings” department at the Fraunhofer WKI

As of 1st March 2024, Dr. Steven Eschig has taken over the management of the “Binders and Coatings” department at the Fraunhofer WKI. The chemist, who had already worked as a research associate at the Fraunhofer WKI, aims to further develop bio-based adhesives, coatings, flame retardants and other chemical products through interdisciplinary collaboration with industry and research partners. Dr. Steven Eschig succeeds Dr. Frauke Bunzel, who had been in charge of the department since December 2018.
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Construction timber in times of climate change: Fraunhofer WKI investigates softwood quality from differing silvicultural systems

Within an interdisciplinary project in collaboration with partners, researchers from the Fraunhofer WKI have investigated the quality of softwood from differing silvicultural systems. The aim of the project was to improve the supply situation for the construction industry in view of climate change. From the results, recommendations for new plantations can be derived in order to specifically optimize wood quality and wood yield. Researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI addressed the visual sorting of softwood and determined that application-oriented sorting based on product requirements – and, consequently, more efficient use of wood resources – is possible in dependence on silvicultural parameters. A re-evaluation of various visual criteria can be advantageous.
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ReMatBuilt: How residual materials become high-performance construction products

When it comes to sustainable development, the construction industry faces great challenges. In the ReMatBuilt project, experts from the Fraunhofer WKI and their partners are proving that the tasks associated with this can be solved with high-performance construction materials made of recycled and waste materials. They will be presenting their solutions to specialist audiences at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 21, 2024.
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Fraunhofer WKI starts mentoring for LignoSilva Centre of Excellence in Slovakia

On 8 February 2024, the kick-off event for the new mentoring programme of the Fraunhofer WKI took place in Bratislava at the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information. The aim of the "Upgrade of the Centre of Excellence LignoSilva" project, which is funded by the European Union, is to strengthen scientific excellence and international research contacts. The Fraunhofer WKI will act as a mentor in the coming years.
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Further development of a non-combustible construction foam and insulation shells for the construction industry

Researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI, in collaboration with the company IGP Chemie GmbH, have further developed a non-combustible filling and installation foam in such a way that it complies with construction-material class A1 and possesses low thermal conductivity. As a result, the installation of fire-resistant doors and windows and the sealing of openings in fire-resistant walls is simplified. In addition, the Fraunhofer WKI, in collaboration with project partner GWK Kuhlmann GmbH, has utilized the new foam in the production of prototypes for prefabricated insulation shells for fittings and valves - an innovation for fire protection in construction that will be further developed for industrial applications in a follow-up project.
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Better CO2 balance through natural-fiber-reinforced cement-based composites for sustainable construction in Brazil

In a joint research and development project between Germany and Brazil, the cooperation partners want to improve the carbon footprint of construction products. To achieve this, they will use, for example, natural bamboo fibers for cement-based composite materials. The overarching aim of the international project is the promotion of market-oriented research and experimental development projects in Brazil. The first interim results have now been exchanged during a workshop in Brazil.
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Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir presents funding notification to Fraunhofer WKI and partners

On the 27th of October 2023, the Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir, presented the participating project partners with the funding notification from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) for the research project “Nachhaltige Erzeugung und Verwertung von Rohrkolben auf Niedermoorstandorten in Niedersachsen“ (Sustainable production and utilization of cattails on fenland sites in Lower Saxony, “RoNNi”).
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Fraunhofer WKI develops bio film-formers from lignin for sustainable makeup

In collaboration with Schwan Cosmetics International and Worlée-Chemie, the Fraunhofer WKI has developed high-quality bio-based film-formers on the basis of lignin for use in cosmetic products. The foundation has therefore been laid for high-quality and sustainable makeup products whose quality is in no way inferior to that of conventional products.
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Wood foam from the Fraunhofer WKI soon available as packaging and construction material

The wood foam developed and patented by the Fraunhofer WKI will, in future, be produced and distributed by Butterweck Holzstoffe GmbH & Co. KG. The marketing of the wood foams is planned under the brand name LIGNEW. Construction work for a production plant in Northern Germany will commence shortly. Delivery of the first wood-foam panels is expected to take place in 2026. The researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI will continue to provide Butterweck Holzstoffe GmbH & Co. KG with support in an advisory capacity.
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Fraunhofer WKI concludes successful mentoring of InnoRenew CoE

On September 29, 2023, the University of Primorska and its partners celebrated an important milestone: the successful completion of the project phase of the largest European research and innovation project in Slovenia. Representatives of the European Commission attended the event, where the main project results and future plans of the InnoRenew Center of Excellence (CoE) were presented. The Fraunhofer WKI had accompanied the founding phase of the center as a mentor.
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Fraunhofer presents roadmap “Circular bioeconomy for Germany” in Brussels

Fraunhofer researchers are highlighting the scientific and technological potential of the bioeconomy in their roadmap “Circular bioeconomy for Germany”. Included are recommended actions to be taken at a political level. The roadmap was presented in Brussels on September 20, 2023. The Fraunhofer WKI contributed to the roadmap.
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Fraunhofer WKI exhibits 3D-printed column made from natural-fiber-reinforced bioplastic at the Biennale

The Fraunhofer WKI, in collaboration with the University of Stuttgart, the Laser Zentrum Hannover and industrial partners, has produced a column made from natural-fiber-reinforced bioplastic by means of 3D printing. The column is currently on display at the Biennale in Venice. With the column, the researchers are demonstrating that 3D-printed materials are also suitable for large components in architecture.
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Fraunhofer WKI develops sustainable multicopter with industry partners

In collaboration with the companies Leichtwerk AG and Jowat SE, the Fraunhofer WKI has developed a sustainable multicopter. Thanks to an efficient, bio-based structural design and modular construction, the new aerial vehicle is significantly more sustainable than comparable conventional systems. In order to achieve this, the Fraunhofer WKI has developed functional materials, manufacturing processes for molded parts, and suitable coatings.
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Bonding on demand: Switchable adhesives for cement-bonded wood-based panels

Switchable adhesives are suitable for the adhesion of cement-bonded wood-based panels. This has been verified by researchers at the Fraunhofer WKI in collaboration with industrial partners. With the aid of – amongst other things – block shear tests, the project team showed that the minimum requirements are fulfilled through the use of the newly developed adhesives.
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10 years of research at the Fraunhofer WKI Application Center HOFZET®

On 1st July 2023, the researchers from the Fraunhofer WKI Application Center HOFZET® will be able to look back upon 10 years of research activities in the fields of sustainability, materials development and component development as well as circular economy and recycling.
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