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Research


The daily life in our society depends upon a variety of different products: from local food, low-tech and high-tech household and industrial appliances, to exotic luxury and consumer goods from all over the world. Providing a large variety of consumer products at any time and anywhere requires considerable logistical efforts. Looking into the origin of raw materials and components, often reflects the global nature of manufacturing.

F3

In particular many high-tech products (e.g. cell phones, flat panel displays, IT-hardware, energy-saving lamps, photovoltaic cells, catalysts) incorporate a number of functional materials and rare metals, such as indium, hafnium, germanium and platinum. The globalized world economy is thus characterized by the complex flow of resources. The ever-increasing and extensive use of these resources continues to have substantial and irreversible impacts on the natural environment. Furthermore it often results in political, economic and raw material specific dependencies.

Produktionskette

Our research activities and projects focus on the fundamental principles of resource flows in the context of time and space. The identification and analysis of ecological, economic and socio-political impacts throughout a product’s life cycle - from raw material extraction, to manufacturing, transportation, product use, disposal and recycling - constitutes a fundamental part of the chair’s research.

Through the analysis of the entire value chain of products, one can track the material history of products. However, this approach goes beyond the mere examination of economic and technical aspects and the application of different raw materials. It also considers risks and dependencies in the sense of unforeseeable consequences which might occur between human and environment.

As the amount of rare metals used in products is often very small, recycling and recovery of these substances are frequently technically not feasible. It can be estimated that this will further increase the scarcity of many strategic metals. This further emphasizes the need for efficient recycling systems and technologies. As a result, substitution and design for recycling will become increasingly important.

Stoffkarte

Mapping material flows and histories can help us to picture the origin and life cycle of essential resources. Material maps may also give indications of possible dependencies and the criticality associated with certain substances. Mineral resources are of particular interest at this point.

Material inventories provide a foundation for the development of local and global strategies, which seek to encourage and guide the sustainable use of natural resources. In addition to complex economic and political requirements, cultural conditions play a key role in the development of such strategies. Furthermore, the influence and potential of environmentally and socially sound lifestyles are being explored. These analyses are the foundation for the development of multidisciplinary education models, which can be applied in the private industry, as well as in the public sector and educational institutions.

 The research conducted by the Chair of Resource Strategy focuses on the    following areas:

  • Management of resources (with a particular focus on water, as well as mineral and metallic resources)
  • Resource flows and production chains
  • Multidisciplinary research on the environment
  • Education for sustainable development
  • Material histories
  • Educational models for sustainable development and resource conservation
  • Sustainable pharmacy
  • Environmental management