Science Minister Dr Manja Schüle presented Prof. Dr Holger Seidlitz, head of the research area "Polymer Materials and Composites PYCO", and Felix Kuke, future head of the Fraunhofer project group "Centre for Sustainable Lightweight Construction Technologies" (ZenaLeb), with a funding decision of 4.5 million euros for the ZenaLeb project group during her visit to the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in the Potsdam Science Park.
Science Minister Dr Manja Schüle: "Recyclable wind turbines, hydrogen storage as an energy source and novel composite materials are just a few examples of efficient lightweight structures of the next generation. With our funding commitment, 4.5 million euros will flow into their research and development. To this end, the complementary competences and resources of the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and the Fraunhofer IAP will be bundled in the Fraunhofer project group ZenaLeb. This cooperation is providing important impulse in Lusatia to successfully shape the structural change and transfer technologies from research directly into application. Lightweight construction is an essential component for the energy transition and for the necessary achievement of the German government's climate targets. This makes it clear once again: Brandenburg occupies a top position in sustainability research and the future is - once again - being made in Brandenburg".
Professor Seidlitz: "The vision of ZenaLeb was significantly shaped by developments in the context of structural change in order to be able to cover emerging needs of regional industry in the field of lightweight construction. As an interface between development and application, ZenaLeb will enable sustainable and practical solutions through our Next Generation Lightweight Construction for the new ICE plant of Deutsche Bahn and the Centre for Research into Hybrid-Electric Drives (CHESCO) in Cottbus as well as car manufacturers based in the region and their suppliers. This industry-oriented development and cooperation model forms the basis for a rapid transfer of knowledge and technology and the establishment of the project group, after the start-up funding expires after 5 years, as a self-financed unit according to the Fraunhofer model."
The Centre for Sustainable Lightweight Construction Technologies (ZenaLeb) will advance the development of efficient lightweight structures of the next generation. To this end, holistic marketable system solutions will be developed along the entire value chain, from polymer development, material preparation and processing to novel manufacturing technologies and forward-looking optimisation strategies such as data-driven modelling approaches, artificial intelligence methods and machine learning. These novel hybrid material and manufacturing approaches can be used, for example, in the production of new storage systems for hydrogen.
The institute director of the Fraunhofer IAP, Prof. Dr. Alexander Böker, adds: "We very much welcome and appreciate the constant support of the Fraunhofer IAP by the state of Brandenburg. With the establishment of the new ZenaLeb project group, we are strengthening our commitment in Lusatia and our contribution to regional structural change. ZenaLeb also directly addresses challenges arising from the coal phase-out and opens up new paths to a more sustainable energy economy. Energy transition and sustainability are two of our guiding themes at the Fraunhofer IAP."
The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, founded in 1992, specialises in the research and development of polymer applications. It supports companies and partners in the development and optimisation of innovative and sustainable materials, processing aids and processes. This includes, among other things, the environmentally friendly, economical production and processing of polymers or bio-based polymers from renewable raw materials. The fields of application range from biotechnology, medicine, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to electronics and optics to applications in packaging, environmental and wastewater technology or the aviation, automotive, paper, construction and paint industries. Around 250 scientists and employees work at the institute. It has been headed by Prof. Dr Alexander Böker since 2015.