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

Projects

FutureWood – Softwood quality in times of climate change

Duration: Oct 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2022

Climate change presents major challenges for the forestry sector. In particular, the supply of high-quality softwood is becoming increasingly problematic. In the FutureWood project, we are investigating the raw material quality produced by differing silvicultural systems, taking into account the climatic and ecological aspects. We are applying the gained knowledge in the conception of optimized silvicultural systems and manufacturing procedures for the forestry and timber industries in order to safeguard the sustainable production of high-quality coniferous-wood products.

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IRVE – Innovative Recycling Processes for Electronic Waste

September 3, 2019

E-waste contains many recyclable materials that should be recovered for recycling. These include high-quality metals such as gold, copper, tantalum and rare earth elements, but also high-quality plastics. While some metals such as gold and copper, for example, can already be recovered efficiently, many valuable materials and around half of the low-concentration metals contained in e-waste are still lost in conventional recycling processes. A consortium consisting of the Technische Universität Aschaffenburg, the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS and the industrial partners Sesotec and Mairec has now set itself the goal within the framework of the project "IRVE - Innovative Recycling Processes for Electronic Waste" of finding new processes for the efficient recovery of components containing valuable materials from electronic waste.

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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.

 

AutoBatRec2020": Smart Recycling of Waste Traction Batteries from Electric Vehicles – EU Funding for New Resource-Efficient Solution

Today‘s electromobility consumes large amounts of traction batteries, preferably high-performance lithium-ion batteries. These batteries contain valuable raw materials and should not be discarded as waste at the end of their life. Efficient recycling requires closed materials loops and a logistic solution capable of growing along with the increasing number of waste batteries from more and more electric vehicles. The research project “Automotive Battery Recycling 2020” which was launched earlier this year with EU-funding from EIT RawMaterials sets out to identify efficient recycling routines that are ecologically sound, economically viable and readily transferable to industrial scale. The overall aim is to improve the EU-wide recycling chain and add to a secure supply of raw materials through the recovery of valuable materials from waste streams.
We are used to a mobile life but it runs on power, and energy storage relies on a number of valuable raw materials which are not easily available in Europe. They need to be imported, and more so every day with progressing electromobility. Traction batteries which power electric vehicles consume large amounts of rare and even critical raw materials. A working recycling of traction batteries is a must if we wish to retain these valuable material flows inside Europe for the recovery and reuse of these limited resources.