We celebrate 30 years Fraunhofer IAP!

The Fraunhofer IAP has developed rapidly in 30 years. Here we tell you where we come from and where we are going.

In 1992, we started with 106 employees and 4 research units in Teltow. Today, approx. 250 employees work in 7 research divisions at 7 locations.

The Fraunhofer IAP emerged in 1992 from the Institute for Polymer Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR in Teltow-Seehof. Applied polymer research was continued in the initially temporary Fraunhofer Research Institution led by Professor Heinz Zimmermann.

After two years as a temporary Fraunhofer Research Institution, Fraunhofer IAP becomes an independent institute in 1994. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the universtity of Potsdam agree on a contract for joint cooperation. Potsdam-Golm will become the future headquarters of the Institute.

1997 – Professor Ulrich Buller becomes director of the institute. A fortunate move for the institute, which was able to develop successfully under his leadership. The founding of the now so successful Pilot Plant Center PAZ is one of the archivements of the new director.

2000 – We are moving to Potsdam. The new building with 5000 m² of floor space near the University of Potsdam's Golm campus allows new cooperation opportunities and firmly establishes Fraunhofer in the Brandenburg research landscape.

2005: Opening of the Fraunhofer Pilot Plant Center PAZ in Schkopau.  At that time, institute director Prof. Buller and division director Dr. Hahn were key figures in the realization of this project, which has been very successful for the Fraunhofer IAP to this day.

In 2006, Prof. Dr. Fink takes the helm as head of the institute. From car doors to sausage casings – industrial applications based on renewable materials such as cellulose are his focus. Today, bioeconomy and sustainability are still central topics at the Fraunhofer IAP.

In 2012, the Fraunhofer IAP celebrates its 20th anniversary and grows: The "Application Center for Innovative Polymer Technologies" opens with 2800 m² of office and laboratory space. Here we develop printed OLED and solarcells or polymers for biomedicine.


The Fraunhofer IAP turns THIRTY. What will the next 30 years bring?

Prof. Holger Seidlitz is a lightweight construction expert and heads the research division Polymer Materials and Composites PYCO at Fraunhofer IAP.

What contribution do composites make to the energy turnaround?

Lightweight design systems will benefit decisively from the increasing use of composites in the future and thus make an important contribution to completing the energy and mobility turnaround. Due to their low mass, combined with their high strength and stiffness properties and enormous design freedom, they are ideally suited to the production of particularly energy efficient structures with a high functional density. For example, it is comparatively easy to integrate additional optical and electronic functions in the components and thus implement systemic concepts. Holistic developments, which must above all include recovery and recycling strategies for end-of-life scenarios, will enable more sustainable products in the fields of energy technology, mobility and mechanical engineering. The global megatrends of digitalization and artificial intelligence, decarbonization and biologization of technology will further drive these developments and spur the establishment of a stringent sustainable circular economy.

to the Research Division PYCO

Dr. Antje Lieske heads the department Polymer Synthesis at Fraunhofer IAP.

What role do plastics play in a sustainable circular economy?

Life without plastics is hardly conceivable today. They make our lives more comfortable and safer. But large quantities end up in the trash or are incinerated. Only a small proportion is reused as recyclate in the production of new plastic products.
In the future, plastics will be obtained from non-fossil sources such as biomass or CO₂ in a sustainable circular economy. They will be perceived and treated as valuable by consumers and industry. When they have fulfilled their purpose in a “life“, they will be collected by type in digitized deposit and sorting systems. From this “waste“, next-generation processing plants will extract raw materials that are used to produce new plastic products The circle is closed.

to the department Polymer Synthesis

Dr.-Ing. Murat Tutuş heads the department Membranes and Functional Films at Fraunhofer IAP.

How do we manage water as a resource sustainably?

At first glance, there is plenty of water in Germany. In the course of climate change, however, there have been long periods of drought in recent years. Soils have dried out, forests have been stressed by the dryness, and trees have died. Therefore, we need to adapt the future use and purification of water. Conventional optimization strategies that are mainly focused on the reduction of the cost of water purification will not be sufficient. The resource water must be thought of as a whole. For example, limits for water pollution must be tightened and wastewater must be understood in the future as a source for the recovery of valuable substances and energy. At Fraunhofer IAP, we are actively contributing to the transformation of water purification: We develop new membranes for sustainable and targeted recovery of water and valuable substances such as nitrates and phosphates for reuse in agriculture.

to the department Membranes and Functional Films

Dr. André Lehmann heads the department Fiber Technology at Fraunhofer IAP.

How do textiles become more sustainable?

Sustainability in the textile industry is becoming increasingly important and is demanded by the market. Cellulosic man-made fibers such as viscose or lyocell fulfill precisely these requirements and can thus hold their own against other synthetic man-made fibers. Currently, various alternative processes for the production of cellulosic fibers are on a pilot scale, in which the Fraunhofer IAP is involved as a development partner. I am convinced that in 30 years a European cellulosic staple fiber will be established on the market, in the development of which the Fraunhofer IAP was significantly involved.

to the department Fiber Technology

Dr. Christoph Gimmler heads the department Nanoscale Energy and Structure Materials at Fraunhofer IAP.

How do we replace fossil fuels with hydrogen?

Hydrogen will be a central component of the energy transition and decisively drive the decarbonization of society and industry. The production of hydrogen by electrolysis on a large scale, and also its use as a raw material in chemical processes or for electricity generation in fuel cells, requires more efficient catalysts with smaller amounts of rare and therefore expensive precious metals such as platinum or iridium compared to today.
At Fraunhofer IAP, we are developing and testing more robust, long-lasting catalysts with the smallest possible amounts of precious metals, which are already comparable in performance to common commercial materials. So that we will still be able to see the light in thirty years' time.

to the department Nanoscale Energy and Structure Materials

Dr. Christine Boeffel is an expert in printed photovoltaics and a scientist in the Functional Materials and Devices department at Fraunhofer IAP.

How can we make solar energy more sustainable?

In the European "Green Deal", the reduction of CO2 emissions is a central goal. To achieve this, energy generation should be as resource-efficient as possible, using sun and wind. However, the production of already established silicon-based solar cells requires a high energy input and the use of critical raw materials. The Fraunhofer IAP is working on an alternative with partners from industry and research in Europe. They are producing printed solar cells based on organic and inorganic-organic raw materials. Such polymer and hybrid materials allow the application of efficient printing technologies that can produce solar cells with a significantly lower carbon footprint. The challenge here is to accomplish a lifetime and performance comparable to conventional systems. Successes have already been achieved on a laboratory scale. Scaling up to processes suitable for industrial use is the task we will be tackling at Fraunhofer IAP in the coming years.

to the department Functional Materials and Devices