Securing critical raw materials for the German high tech industry: The integration and transfer project “r4-INTRA“ supports the funding measure r4 with bundled competence

4.4.2016

The funding measure “r4 – Innovative technologies for resource efficiency – Research for the provision of economically strategic raw materials“, supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with around 60 million euros, is scientifically accompanied by the Clausthal Institute for Environmental Technologies (CUTEC), Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Pforzheim University (HSPF). The integration and transfer project “r4-INTRA“ connects leading raw material researchers in around 40 joint projects which develop innovative solutions to ensure the supply of critical raw materials for the German industry.

Gallium, indium or rare earths – economically strategic raw materials are crucial building blocks for many innovative technologies and essential for the leading position of German industry in international markets. No cellular phone, no computer works without these metals. The list of raw materials critical for the European economy is long. The German government has launched the BMBF funding measure “r4 – Innovative technologies for resource efficiency – Research for the provision of economically strategic raw materials“ within the framework of its high tech strategy with the aim to improve the security of supply in Germany.  Around 60 million euros are provided for this, embedded in the framework program “Research for sustainable research (FONA)“ of the BMBF. After a first call for proposals in r4, 26 joint projects were granted. After the second call for tender has been completed, this number will probably grow to 40 projects. Leading German raw material researchers, junior scientists and industry are involved.

To accompany the research, the integration and transfer project “r4-INTRA“ will strengthen the innovation process of the implementation-oriented joint projects by targeted networking. This is done through sector, technology and subject-oriented clustering of the individual projects. Research foci of the funding measure r4 are the exploration and extraction of primary domestic raw materials as well as the recovery and reuse of secondary raw materials. It is important to integrate potential users and the public at an early stage in order to implement the research results at a later date. The steadily increasing information supply on the website www.r4-innovation.de, which is available as of this week, is part of this effort.

Together with Fraunhofer ISI and the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the Clausthal Institute for Environmental Technologies (CUTEC) as the project coordinator leads the r4-INTRA project. Pforzheim University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are also involved. They are experienced in accompanying such research measures and support the partners in transferring results and analyzing potentials regarding sustainable provision of economically strategic raw materials.

Dr. Katrin Ostertag, who coordinates the r4 research activities at Fraunhofer ISI and manages the r4-INTRA project, sums up the role of the integration and transfer project, “r4-INTRA is an important link between funding recipients, research policies and the public. Our job at Fraunhofer ISI is particularly to quantitatively assess the potentials of the solutions developed in r4 on an empirical basis and bring together how they contribute to attaining the objectives of the funding measure.” 

The integration and transfer project r4-INTRA runs until 31 December 2019 and is funded by the BMBF with 1.9 million euros.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.