High-ranking visitors

Schavan and Gröhe visit new Application Center at Fraunhofer IAP

Press release /

Potsdam-Golm | The Federal Research Minister Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan and CDU General Secretary Hermann Gröhe MP visited the recently opened Application Center for Innovative Polymer Technologies at Fraunhofer IAP on August 21, 2012. They were accompanied by the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Katherina Reiche (CDU). The Director of the Fraunhofer IAP Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Fink presented in the presence of Prof. Dr.-Ing. hab. Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Buller, Senior Vice President Research Planning Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the new laboratories and pilot plants and introduced current research topics – from glowing inks for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and polymer-based implants to high-performance plastics. The high-ranking visitors were impressed by the innovative technologies and the Application Center‘s potential. The 23 million euro expansion was subsidized to 50 percent from the EU Regional Development Fund EFRE. The state of Brandenburg and the federal government were bearing 25 percent of the costs each.

© Fraunhofer IAP, Photo: Till Budde
IAP scientist Dr. Christine Böffel presents flexible OLED displays.

The polycarbonate facade of the expansion makes special reference to the building‘s use: Here, polymers and polymer technologies for various applications are developed. High-tech polymers with special electrical and optical properties, biocompatible materials for medical applications as well as plastics from renewable resources are the focus of research. „For their products and production processes our clients require tailor-made materials that often must have completely new performances and characteristics. We have been working on biobased and synthetic polymers that meet the growing demands of our partners“ said Professor Fink. „The research under industrial conditions is therefore a crucial precondition for the subsequent conversion into commercial products,“ said Fink. With the new Application Center, Fraunhofer IAP creates once more conditions which ensure that the developed methods do not only work on a laboratory scale, but also under production conditions. With its growth strategy, the Potsdam Fraunhofer Institute is fully in line with the Pact for Research and Innovation which aims to increase the competitiveness of German research.

On a lab tour through the Application Center the visitors got an overview of the latest technology of polymer research at the Fraunhofer IAP. „I am impressed about the versatile opportunities that will be opened up in the future by new materials developed at IAP. It is important to create permanently favorable conditions for innovation with such institutions such as the new Application Center. Not only the location of Potsdam and the surrounding region with its many small and medium enterprises of the chemical industry, benefits from this, but also the overall innovation in Germany„ said Minister Schavan. She pointed out that the application-oriented development of sustainable processes and materials is an important contribution to the implementation of the National High-Tech Strategy 2020 on the basis of biobased and synthetic polymers.

According to the customer‘s requirements a pilot plant will enable to manufacture organic light-emitting diodes and organic solar cells in near-industrial scale. Using new printing and patterning techniques in particular flexible products are supposed to be realized. In the medical area the researchers want to develop biocompatible materials for implants. Above all, artificial corneas of the second generation are in the focus, here. In addition, microbiological test systems will be established. The use of renewable raw materials is another core competency of Fraunhofer IAP. In light of the scarcity of fossil resources and the increasing importance of the bioeconomy, it plays an increasingly important role. Besides cellulose and starch, research concentrates more and more on lignin extracted from vegetable raw materials and residues. Lignin is a potential raw material for the chemical industry, from which a wide range of products can be obtained, ranging from additives for the construction industry via new plastics to low-cost carbon fibers.

Minister Schavan praised the great scientific expertise and business-oriented focus of the Fraunhofer Institute. It has developed very positively and thus contributes significantly to strengthening Germany as a science and business location.

Professor Hans-Jörg Bullinger, President of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, is convinced that with the new techniques of modern industrial biotechnology sustainable prospects for the German economy will be opened up: „Nature offers an enormous spectrum of different chemical compounds with promising prospects for the chemical, pharmaceutical, paper and textile industries which are only rudimentary occupied, so far. It is our future task to use nature‘s synthesis power as much as possible in order to gain all valuable ingredients.„

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm specializes in research and development for the entire range of polymer applications. It supports companies and partners in the custom development and optimization of innovative and sustainable materials, processing aids and processes. In addition to the environmentally-friendly, economical production and processing of polymers in the laboratory and pilot plant scale, the Institute also offers the characterization of polymers. We focus on synthetic petroleum-based polymers as well as biopolymers and biobased polymers from renewable resources. The applications are versatile, ranging from biotechnology, medicine, pharmacy and cosmetics via electronics and optics to applications in packaging, environmental and wastewater engineering or the automotive, paper, construction and paint industry.

In June 2012, Fraunhofer IAP inaugurated its „Application Center for Innovative Polymer Technologies“ in Potsdam-Golm. Here, the Institute deepens and expands its core competencies in the field of synthetic and biobased polymers and functional materials. Above all, new materials and technologies are transferred from the laboratory to pilot plant scale. High-tech polymers with special electrical and optical properties, biocompatible materials and renewable plant raw materials are the focus of research. The polycarbonate facade of the L-shaped annex – designed by Hascher and Jehle Planungsgesellschaft mbH – makes special reference to its use as a place of polymer research. Covering an area of 2,800 square meters, the extension offers space for new pilot plants, laboratories and offices. Special features include a clean room, a biochemical lab that meets S1 requirements, additional S1 and S2 labs and special dimmed and vibration neutralizing labs for microscopy and laser applications.