Materials and raw materials

Materials and raw materials have been important research areas at Fraunhofer ISI for years. The motivation for the research is multifaceted and includes the recurring turbulences in global raw materials markets, the transition towards low-carbon energy together with the necessary technologies to achieve it, and an increasing change in values towards more sustainability while maintaining the competitiveness of the German/European economy.

Materials and raw materials

New Publications

Projects and Publications

Raw materials encounter a complex network of actors and technical possibilities in their journey from mining through all stages of transformation into final products, use by society and finally disposal or recycling. We develop dynamic material flow models to better understand physical stocks and flows of materials on a global and/or national/regional level. In combination with suitable scenarios (for example in the areas energy/climate and/or vehicle fleets), these models also provide a comprehensible and transparent quantification of the expected future demand for raw materials taking into account increased resource efficiency, recycling and substitution. In addition, models are developed in order to analyze and improve resource efficiency strategies for enterprises.

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Technological developments are often made possible by new materials. This results in a direct connection between innovation and the supply of raw materials. We conduct scientifically sound foresight processes and compile and propose scenarios and roadmaps depicting possible future developments as well as alternative visions of the future.

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A reliable supply of raw materials is essential for a functioning economy. We support industry and policy makers by characterizing supply risks, in the early recognition of possible demand-driven bottlenecks, by identifying critical raw materials as well as by developing and evaluating strategies to increase the security of the supply of raw materials.

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We investigate production technologies and develop industrial innovation strategies as well as business models for enterprises and economic sectors which rely heavily on certain materials and raw materials. Nanotechnology plays an important role in many areas of the economy and society − for example electric mobility or energy storage − as it generates important innovations, thereby strengthening competitiveness. Shifts in supply and value chains as a consequence of new (production) technologies are also an important research area.

We investigate the framework conditions for handling resources sustainably and efficiently as well as the relevant innovation processes and strategies. Our work follows the paradigm of the circular economy when assessing political instruments in the area of resource efficiency and contributing to their further development. Projects are also devoted to macroeconomic and ecological effects, recycling and the use of renewable raw materials as well as resource efficiency in enterprises.

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A critical reflection of the status quo as well as the effects of past and/or planned initiatives relevant for materials and raw materials is essential for the efficient use limited resources. We employ an extensive qualitative and quantitative pool of assessment and evaluation methods, for example in order to assess the ecological impacts and costs of new technologies, the technological performance of countries and sectors as well as the effectiveness of research programs.

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