University of Bayreuth Scientist, in association with partners from industry, nominated for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis
The Office of the Federal President today published its nominations for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis – one of the most important scientific awards in Germany. Among those listed were Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thorsten Gerdes (UBT), Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Friedbert Scharfe (Maxit), and Dr. rer. nat. Klaus Hintzer (Dyneon/3M). In a team effort, they developed „ecosphere“ – an innovative, environmentally-friendly system of sprayable facade insulation involving hollow glass micro-beads. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will announce the prize-winners on 25 November 2020.
In order to limit global warming, greenhouse gas emissions must be significantly reduced, among other things through lower energy consumption. The improved thermal insulation of residential and commercial buildings, which account for around one-fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, will play an important role in this. The nominees Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Friedbert Scharfe (Head of R&D at Franken Maxit Mauermörtel GmbH & Co, Azendorf), Prof. Dr.- Ing. Thorsten Gerdes (Head of the key lab Glass Technology in the University of Bayreuth Ceramic Materials research group), and Dr. rer. nat. Klaus Hintzer (Corporate Scientist at Dyneon GmbH, Burgkirchen, a company in the 3M Group) have created a new type of insulation system that promises to give energy-efficient renovation a real boost. It is based on a novel mortar and tiny glass spheres. „Ecosphere“ has a particularly good thermal insulation effect, can be produced cost-effectively and is easy to process. It is robust, flexible in application, and thoroughly recyclable at the end of its useful life.
The idea to use the microscopic hollow glass spheres in building materials came from Friedbert Scharfe, Head of Research and Development at Maxit, where he had already experimented with 3M glass bubbles in the field of paints. Financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, „ecosphere“ went on to be jointly developed as part of a research project. „The idea of replacing sand in cement-based building materials with ultra-light hollow glass bubbles was certainly the decisive breakthrough,“ says key lab Glass Technology head Prof. Dr. Thorsten Gerdes. In his words, it is the combination of the mineral binder phase with a high proportion of exactly the right glass bubbles which can be processed in a spraying system, that is the special innovation. The University of Bayreuth’s key lab Glass Technology was responsible for optimizing the assimilation of the 3M glass bubbles into the binder, characterizing the product’s material properties, and developing an understanding of how its various porosities affect the insulation properties.
Since 2016, the key lab Glass Technology has been working with partners from industry and SMEs on sustainable solutions along the entire process chain of glass production. „An essential prerequisite for market-effective technical progress is the combination of fundamental and application-oriented research. However, the complexity of most tasks requires different types of expertise, and these must be networked with each other,“ says Gerdes. The University of Bayreuth is characterized by just such a networked spectrum of research. The key lab Glass Technology combines physical, chemical, material, and engineering expertise in the area of glass. Here, ideas for new concepts and process variants can be quickly tested and evaluated.
The key lab Glass Technology carries out simulation calculations that can also be used to determine hidden properties or difficult-to-measure variables in glass-making processes and glass products. The results provide valuable information for the improvement of manufacturing and processing procedures. The key lab also investigates ways to further improve glass coating by using microwave technology. It also develops completely new plant and operational concepts in glass production. One important field of work at the key lab is recycling. Together with partners from industry, it works on the development and refinement of recycling, as well as on the recovery of heavy metals, as important raw materials, from waste glass. All projects are conducted together with industrial companies based in the region but operating worldwide – and to great effect. The nomination for Deutscher Zukunftspreis is the best possible proof of this.
University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible congratulates Gerdes and his team on behalf of the University of Bayreuth: „This nomination is not only an impressive recognition of Professor Gerdes’s individual scientific achievements, it also underlines his ability to mould a team of motivated researchers and to lead it through the often frustrating phases of development. Furthermore, this nomination demonstrates that Prof. Gerdes is particularly skilful in facilitating the transfer of knowledge between science and industry, which is extremely important for both the University of Bayreuth and the region. Many thanks for your commitment!”
The Deutscher Zukunftspreis, the German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology is presented to developers of outstanding technical, engineering, scientific, and software or algorithm-based innovations. The Federal President thus honours projects which, based on excellent research, lead to viable and thus market-ready products, to the development of economic potential, and to the creation of jobs. The prize honours the people behind these developments. Deutscher Zukunftspreis – the German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology is worth € 250,000. It is considered one of the most important scientific awards in Germany.
The presentation in the Deutsches Museum starting at 6 pm is to be broadcast:
Contact for scientific information:
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thorsten Gerdes
Head of the key lab Glass Technology
Ceramic Materials research group at the University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0) 921 / 55-6504