22. March 2023 | Magazine:

A visit to the OHLF Science Minister Falko Mohrs finds out about the Circular Economy in Wolfsburg

The Lower Saxony Minister for Science and Culture, Falko Mohrs, the President of Technische Universität Braunschweig, Angela Ittel, as well as the Mayor of the City of Wolfsburg, Dennis Weilmann, and other decision-makers and friends of the OHLF came to Wolfsburg on 17 March 2023. Here they were able to get a first-hand look at the ongoing development of the ResearchCampus, which opened in 2017. The Open Hybrid LabFactory, or OHLF for short, is a platform for industry and science to test new technologies and processes for marketability and their economic sustainability and to utilise them. The focus is on the circular economy, production technology, lightweight construction and material development. TU Braunschweig is one of the founding members.

Lower Saxony’s Minister of Science Falko Mohrs (2nd from left) visits the OHLF in Wolfsburg. Photo credit: OHLF e.V.

“The lightweight construction research factory of TU Braunschweig and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is developing into a research factory for the circular economy in Wolfsburg. In this way, material can be used more efficiently, the CO2 footprint can be reduced and critical raw materials can be recovered. It’s all part of the transformation of the automotive industry,” says Science Minister Falko Mohrs. “With our Agenda zukunft.niedersachsen and a focus on transformation research, we have the right funding instrument to provide support here in the coming years.”

Last year, the thematic focus of the OHLF shifted from hybrid lightweight construction to circular economy concepts as well as the holistic consideration of process chains and the recycling of materials. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions.

A lot is already happening on campus in this context, for example with the projects “ZIRKEL” for circular production for highly integrated components of electromobility and “Stack2P” for the non-destructive dismantling of fuel cell stacks.

The shift towards an efficient and sensible circular economy is also welcomed in the OHLF network, which ranges from institutes to corporations to start-ups. There is a great deal of agreement among the members of OHLF e.V. that the new topics are future-oriented and established with enough foresight.

“The new strategically designed structures for research and teaching have proven themselves, as can be seen here at the OHLF, and are an excellent model for universities of the future and companies of tomorrow,” says Professor Angela Ittel, President of TU Braunschweig.

Start-up provides inspiration on the topic of AI and occupational safety

Sebastian Bienia and Michael Demes present their start-up SENTICS at the OHLF. Photo credit: OHLF e.V.

SENTICS GmbH provided inspiration from the start-up scene with a company presentation during the tour of the OHLF technical centre. Sentics secured second place in the Science Spin-off category of the DurchSTARTer Prize 2022, one of the best-funded start-up competitions in Lower Saxony, and had already met Falko Mohrs there for the first time. The start-up develops AI-based software that significantly increases occupational safety in companies. A constantly expandable and optimised pilot system has been established at the technical centre in Wolfsburg.

In the subsequent discussion about the future of the ResearchCampus, everyone agreed on wanting to further strengthen the industrial location and intensify cooperation. The future is being planned together – a follow-up meeting is already planned.

“Research in the field of the Circular Economy plays a significant role in the context of the climate turnaround under the aspect of sustainable resource conservation and increasing energy efficiency, also contributes excellently to the values of TU Braunschweig and supports our goal of contributing to a more sustainable world,” says Angela Ittel.

A shared future at the OHLF – from left: Dennis Weilmann (Mayor of the City of Wolfsburg), Prof. Angela Ittel (President of TU Braunschweig), Falko Mohrs (Lower Saxony Minister of Science), Steffen Stübig (TU Braunschweig), Thomas Krause (Wolfsburg AG), Wendelin Göbel (Wolfsburg AG), Jens Hofschröter (Head of City of Wolfsburg Department for Digital Affairs and Economics), Dr. Stefan Schmitt (OHLF), Prof. Christoph Herrmann (TU Braunschweig), Prof Klaus Dröder (TU Braunschweig), Prof Klaus Dilger (TU Braunschweig) and Marko Gernuks (Volkswagen). Photo credit: OHLF e.V.