Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2024

Bio-based plastics – innovative plastic film material made from PLA bioplastic

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The research team in the laboratory: Dr. Antje Lieske, Dr. Benjamín Rodríguez and André Gomoll vom Fraunhofer IAP (from left.)

©  Photo: Fraunhofer / Piotr Banczerowski

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize winners 2024:

Dr. Antje Lieske, Dr. Benjamín Rodríguez and André Gomoll
(Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP)


The packaging market is currently dominated by a plastic known as polyethylene (LDPE, low density polyethylene). However, it is petroleum-based, not biodegradable, and can only be recycled mechanically, with significant functional degradation. By contrast, a biopolyester known as polylactide (PLA) is bio-based and biodegradable and can be chemically recycled into new products with relatively little use of energy. But because it is very brittle, it is not suitable in its conventional form for production of flexible disposable packaging items such as shopping bags or garbage bags, which are among the main sources of single-use plastic waste. In addition, PLA can currently only be produced profitably in continuous large-scale plants, which until now has excluded smaller companies as manufacturers.

André Gomoll, Dr. Benjamín Rodríguez, and Dr. Antje Lieske from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP have succeeded in developing a flexible, recyclable PLA-based material for film applications that also permits commercialization by medium-sized companies. This gives the packaging market an alternative, sustainable material.

Aspects praised by the jury include the fact that the research team “has achieved the same properties as the polyethylene used so far through the development of the material via block copolymers and demonstrated the feasibility of implementation in a pilot plant together with an industrial partner, which shows great commercial potential.”

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize

Since 1978, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has awarded the annual Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize to its employees for outstanding scientific achievements in developing solutions for application-related problems.

The criteria for being awarded the research prize include the innovative nature of the scientific methodological approach, the advancement of knowledge, and the transfer of the research findings into practical applications.

This year, three Joseph von Fraunhofer Prizes will be awarded, each worth 50,000 euros. The winners will also receive a silver pin with the profile of Joseph von Fraunhofer.