And the search for new, sustainable materials continues: at the Open Hybrid LabFactory (OHLF) on the outskirts of Wolfsburg, Volkswagen is researching alternative materials for automotive engineering. To improve the environmental balance of electric cars in the process, the circular economy is an increasingly important factor – this includes developing plastics from recycled materials and using natural materials in biological cycles.
Dr. Marko Gernuks is the Volkswagen representative on the OHLF board of management and says: “We want to shape processes, materials and components in such a way that they make substantial improvements to the circular economy. To do so, we are planning to develop new plastics from recycled materials. We want to automate disassembly processes to separate materials economically, and we are choosing natural materials in biological cycles.”
One approach that Volkswagen researchers feel has huge potential is an increasing number of biomaterials. This is about much more than just industrial crops such as rapeseed or softwood – since these innovative materials can also be generated in the lab. For example, pure cellulose is being researched currently, which in its natural form can be found in the cell walls of plants, for example, in wood. In the lab, bacteria can generate this in a pure form. The natural polymer is very stable and resistant; it is also well suited to recycling processes in the car and can be composted.