Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New junior research group focuses on improved utilization of raw materials


Euro 1.4 million for research project on “Contribution of material cascade utilization to sustainable resource management”

A car tire at first, in a second life maybe an insulating board or the sole of a shoe, then floor covering in a third life – if a raw material made from crude oil, which to this day remains the main constituent of car tires, is used several times and in multiple stages it is called “cascade use”.

Mines for Copper and Molybdenum in the North of Chile. Oldenburg University, Cascade Use

This will be the focus of a new junior research group at the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, which is led by Dr.-Ing. Alexandra Pehlken and will commence work in the coming days. 

The interdisciplinary junior research group is called “Contribution of material cascade utilization to sustainable resource management” or short “Cascade Use” and will be sponsored by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)’s “Global Change” programme with nearly Euro 1.4 million over a period of four years, with the possibility of adding another year if necessary.

The research group is part of the School of Computing Science, Business Administration, Economics and Law of the University of Oldenburg and consists of five co-workers. In addition to the project leader and adjunct, the group will give three doctoral students the opportunity to do research and obtain their doctorates.

One of the junior scientists is from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. “Through our close cooperation with the Chinese university we will be able to gain valuable impulses”, Pehlken asserts. “We are going to collaborate with Professor Chen Ming, one of the most well-known Chinese recycling experts. Among other things, analyses of this exploding market in Asia will very much enhance our research. Moreover, we hope that together we can contribute to increasing the acceptance of recycling in China.”

The aim of the “Cascade Use” research is to utilize raw materials within the economic cycle for as long as possible and thus protect the environment. “This not only offers ecological benefits, but also very large and so far mostly untapped economic potentials” says Pehlken.
The group deals with the question of how materials are integrated into product life cycles and when they become available for reuse or remanufacturing.

With this issue in mind, the group develops a tool to assist decision-makers in economics, administration and politics in recognizing and evaluating the potentials for optimal resource use with the least possible environmental impacts. To do so, the scientists employ material flow analyses with reference to technological, ecological and economic aspects. Developing a method for estimating the life cycle-spanning material availability, they also, for example, determine the CO2 emissions within the recycling hierarchy.

The group particularly focuses on primary resources, such as iron, copper, aluminium and magnesium, as well as on the valuable and often critical rare earth metals. These include europium, which is needed for fluorescent lamps and plasma screens, and neodymium, which is part of the strong, small permanent magnets, high performance microphones, high-efficiency speakers, wind power turbines and high performance electric motors. Hardly any of today’s key technologies could function without the use of rare earth elements.

About Alexandra Pehlken:
Alexandra Pehlken (42) studied mining at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH Aachen) where she also gained her doctorate as engineer in 2002. The scientist, who was born in Oldenburg, has carried out research in Germany,, South Africa and China. Furthermore, a Lise-Meitner-Scholarship brought her to the ‘Natural Resources Canada’ Institute in Ottawa (Canada), where she dealt with the recycling of used car tires. Pehlken also led several research projects, for example, a project on feed production at the ‘Institute for Integrated Product Development’ (BIK) at the University of Bremen. Since 2012, the engineer has been working as a project leader in the field of energy and society at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research (COAST) of the University of Oldenburg. Besides, she is involved in national and international panels. In 2011, Pehlken was appointed Associated Junior Fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst (HWK).

Contact: Dr.-Ing. Alexandra Pehlken, COAST- Center for Environmental and Sustainability Research (COAST), Tel. 0441/798-4796, E-Mail:

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Corinna Dahm-Brey | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Environmental Sustainability analyses ecological leader materials raw

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Understanding the fruit fly’s nose
24.11.2015 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

nachricht Fighting Parkinson's disease: 1.25 million Euros for young Tübingen-based researcher
16.11.2015 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Teamplay IT solution enables more efficient use of protocols

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Greater efficiency and potentially reduced costs with new MRI applications

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Modular syngo.plaza as a comprehensive solution – even for enterprise radiology

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>