Energy and Resources – Using raw materials more efficiently

As raw materials become scarcer and more expensive, we are laying the foundations to secure industry’s supply of raw materials in the long term, allowing it to continue to occupy a leading position in high-tech. To do this, we are researching innovative potential separation, sorting, processing and substitution techniques, and developing strategies for sustainable ways to use valuable resources.

Energie und Rohstoffe


Circular Plastics Economy

Taking plastics as an example, the participating Fraunhofer Institutes show how the energy and material flows of a recyclable material chain can be transformed into a circular economy. To this end, special system services are being developed with and for the plastics industry, including its associated consumer and retail companies and the circular economy.

Carbon2Chem® joint project

Using renewable energy, unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry are to replace fossil raw materials in the chemical industry. To this end, a cross-industrial production network will be set up comprising the steel industry, the chemical industry, and the energy industry. Process gases from smelting used to date for energy production serve as raw materials for the production of synthetic fuels, plastics, and other basic chemicals. The modular approach to CO2 use within cross-industry networks enables the combination of climate protection and competitiveness for large industrial sites in Germany and other parts of the world.

Lighthouse Project "Criticality of Rare Earths" successfully completed

Rare earths are among the most strategically important raw materials for German industry, as they are crucial parts of many high-tech products. For a more efficient use of these valuable elements, eight Fraunhofer Institutes have developed new solutions in a now completed joint project. These include optimized manufacturing processes, approaches to recycling and the development of new materials that can replace rare earths. The Fraunhofer experts showed that the demand for rare earths can be reduced to up to one fifth of today's value in benchmark electric motors.

Rubber from dandelions – scientists identify key components in the formation of rubber

© Fraunhofer IME

Dandelions are robust and undemanding plants – from which a desirable product can be extracted: rubber. This is why dandelions have increasingly become the focus of attention of the rubber-producing industry. But how is rubber, contained in the plant’s white milky fluid, actually formed? There has not been any complete answer to this question yet, but a team headed by Münster University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME (Münster branch), has now identified proteins which play a key role in the production of rubber in the plant.


Recovering trace metals from waste electrical and electronic equipment – Add Resources

For high-tech countries such as Germany with limited own natural resources, an alternative means of acquiring these metals is to recover them by recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment. Hitherto, however, there has been no suitable industrial process for recovering antimony and titanium from waste plastic. The objective of the Add Resources research project is to develop a technical process for recovering these metals, so allowing subsequent manufacture of "secondary" additives for reuse.