Objective

The objective of the CEM is to develop research and development strategies for materials research and the associated relevant economic framework conditions by means of systematic considerations. In doing so, the centre will support the efficient and sustainable use of raw materials and secure the benefits of the location in the long term through:

    the material substitution on the input side (e.g. critical imported raw materials)

    the technology substitution in the value chain

    the digitalisation of materials and processes

    the development of design for re-use and recycling

  with a focus on an economically efficient and sustainable circular economy.

What is needed

Many of the raw materials on which our prosperity, our security and our health are based only have limited availability. At the same time, increasing consumption and the emissions this involves jeopardise our natural resources. To achieve and secure prosperity and quality of life also in the long term, a rapid transformation of our economic order is required to achieve an economic, ecological and socially sustainable industrial society. At the Fraunhofer CEM we are therefore researching new paths for greater energy, environmental and resource efficiency as well as suitable political measures to achieve this goal.

The production of goods brings with it immense current and future challenges for the present-day structures of developed industrial societies. Global trading and value creation interrelations, for example, lead to considerable carbon dioxide exports as well as environmental damage and this, in turn, leads to negative external effects. At the same time, existential dependencies exist of limited resources which are often not produced naturally in industrial countries. These global work division and trading structures are currently not sustainable. The world therefore needs new strategies for handling materials, a rethinking of current production and supply chains as well as the long term circular economy viability of the goods and products by means of optimised re-use and recycling.

Mission

As an industrial country that has to import many materials for its key industries, the Federal Republic of Germany is dependent on strong innovative capability in sustainable products and processes. With the energy transition, the change in the way in which energy is produced, Germany has already become an international pioneer in the energy system transformation. Hereby we want to increase energy, environmental and material efficiency with new material economics and, with this, create a fundamental basis for future economic success. For this, the research unit Fraunhofer CEM combines outstanding expertise in materials science and economic research and, in doing so, makes a contribution to developing and securing competitive and location advantages, increasing resource efficiency and establishing new business models.

Roadmap

The CEM will support this process scientifically and in an application orientated way with specific suggestions for political instruments and present scientific insights to various social groups. In doing so, it will optimise political and economic decision-making foundations and increase the acceptancy of change processes.

The individual key research areas of the CEM are as follows:

    Industrial value creation processes and the circular economy

    Systemic interdependencies between energy, resource and environmental economics

    Strategies and instruments for a sustainable economic policy

    Global value chain

    Transformation impact research

The Fraunhofer CEM will move into its new premises in Halle in autumn 2017.