Press releases and technical articles

Here you will find publications on our research topics in professional journals, journals and the daily press.

InnoTeer - Recycling for road construction waste

Recycling asphalt sustainably - Fraunhofer develops recycling process for tar-containing road construction waste

© Shutterstock/Stephen Barnes
Fraunhofer research teams are developing a multi-stage process to efficiently process tar-containing road debris in decentralized plants.

If old roads have to be renewed, the question arises: Where to put the portions that are contaminated with tar? Existing disposal methods are expensive, not very sustainable and generate a lot of CO2.
In the "InnoTeer" project, four Fraunhofer institutes are developing an alternative for rendering tar from road debris harmless and recovering the remaining mineral content in high quality. With just one plant, large amounts of CO2 could already be saved.

Here for you the press release as (German only) PDF download

This project was also reported on in an article in the trade journal »Asphalt & Bitumen« issue 5/2022, p. 42-44.

AutoInspect takes the quality of industrial inspection processes to a new level

Fraunhofer at Hannover Messe

Autoinspect Demonstrator mit Auto von vorne.
© Fraunhofer
In the AutoInspect demonstrator, the car body is transported to the inspection stations on a conveyor system. The picture shows the deflectometry portal: The software can detect surface defects based on the reflec-tion of the striped patterns displayed on the monitors.

The quality of industrial production processes is ensured by a large number of sensor-based individual inspections. This generates large amounts of data. However, until now, the information from the individual sensors has generally only been looked at in isolation. The AutoInspect solution from the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB overcomes this issue by linking all of the data to create a consolidated overview. Now, for the first time, linking the measured values is facilitating intelligent evaluation and the detection of hidden faults. This increases efficiency and ultimately improves product quality. A demonstrator will be presented at the Hannover Messe 2022 from May 30 to June 2 at the joint Fraunhofer booth in Hall 5, Booth A06.

You can find more information on the project page »AutoInspect«

Plastic recycling: reliably sorted instead of burnt in the oven

An article from the Badische Neuesten Nachrichten (BNN)

Plastic waste is mostly a disordered material flow. The goal is to turn it into partial streams for a suitable processing route.

Every year, more than three million tonnes of plastic are incinerated. Experts at the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation are working on sensor systems to prevent plastic from ending up in the incinerator.

Colourful pile: When sorting such mixtures of shredded plastic, conventional sorting plants reach their limits. New technology should improve the skimming of waste plastic for high-quality recycling products.

From waste to raw material: The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's lead project "Waste4Future" is paving new ways for plastics recycling.

You can find more information on the project page "Waste4Future"

Today's waste becomes tomorrow's resource: "Waste4Future" paves new ways for plastics recycling

Green molecules for chemistry

© Fraunhofer IMWS
Keeping carbon in the cycle, thus avoiding plastic waste and emissions: That is the goal of the "Waste4Future" lighthouse project.

A sustainable society with climate-neutral processes requires significant adjustments in the value chains, which are only possible through innovations. Seven Fraunhofer Institutes are pooling their expertise in the lighthouse project "Waste4Future" to develop new solutions for this goal, from the raw material base to material flows and process engineering right to the end of a product's life cycle. In particular, they want to increase energy and resource efficiency in the use of plastics and thus pave the way for a chemical industry that requires fewer fossil raw materials and produces fewer emissions.

The Visual Inspection department is a competence partner here in the areas of evaluation model, sensing and sorting technology.

You can find more information on the project page  "Waste4Future"

Protection of vines from quarantine disease

© Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft
On 12 April, Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner handed over her ministry's funding decisions for the two new research projects “VectoScreen“ and “PhytoMo“ at the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) in Siebeldingen via video link.

Increasingly globalised trade, rising international tourism and climate change are increasing the likelihood that previously unknown harmful organisms will be introduced and carried over to Germany and that heat-loving harmful organisms will be better able to spread and establish themselves - including the quarantine disease “golden yellowing“ (flavescence dorée). It is triggered by phytoplasmas (pests) and causes high yield losses, reduces wine quality and impairs the vitality of infected vines.

The aim of the two projects is the early detection of dangerous phytoplasmoses and viruses on vines and tree fruit. Here, the Department of Visual Inspection Systems is involved in “PhytoMo“.
Further information can be found on the german JKI website (German only)  “Aktuelles“.

Optical sorting of building waste - and replacing scarce building sand

It is by far the largest waste fraction. More than 200 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste are generated in Germany every year. By consistently returning it to the economic cycle, primary raw materials such as natural stone, gravel and above all sand could be substituted to a considerable extent. However, high-quality recycling at product level is currently only taking place for about five percent of the material. Most of it ends up in the substructure of roads or directly in the landfill through downcycling. In the BauCycle research project, four Fraunhofer institutes have now bundled their know-how and for the first time developed holistic recycling strategies for fine-grained building rubble, which has so far been deposited in landfills completely unused.

Further information can be found on the project page “BauCycle“.

Optical bulk material sorting with area scan cameras

Precise rejection and material characterisation through image sequence evaluation and multi-object tracking

“Optical bulk materials sorting“ is regarded as a key technology for recycling management and has a central role in quality control in various industries. Existing sorting processes require that individual particles contained in the material flow are fed to the image-processing inspection system in an orderly manner, i.e. at a uniform transport speed. However, for many bulk materials, for example roundish shaped ones, this is only possible by product-specific, mechanically complex special solutions or increased energy consumption. This can make sorting unprofitable. A new approach is to improve optical bulk material sorters by image sequence evaluation and a motion analysis of individual particles.

More infos  can be found on the project page “Multiobject-Tracking“.

The Fraunhofer project BauCycle: Recycling of fine-grained construction waste

Feinmaterial als kritische Fraktion von Bauabbruch.
© Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Many raw materials are becoming increasingly rare. And this applies not only to crude oil or rare metals, but also to industrially usable sand. Contrary to the saying that something is as common as sand at the sea, it is finite and in some countries even scarce, because beach or desert sand is not suitable for construction; it is too small and too round. But the worldwide construction boom requires huge amounts of gravel, other stones and even building sand for the production of concrete, bricks or plaster. In order to counteract this shortage of resources, four Fraunhofer Institutes have been working for three years on the recycling of mineral building materials from demolition materials as part of the "BauCycle" project. The aim was to enable more sustainable construction through a holistic recycling strategy. The scientists tested new methods for sorting construction waste, examined application options and developed a product from the recycled material in order to save primary raw materials. Following the successful completion of the project, "BauCycle" was named winner in the "Research" category by the German Sustainable Building Council DGNB e.V.

You can find further information on the projects page “BauCycle“.

FoodInSpector: Inline-capable sensor technology for inspecting packaged food

© Fraunhofer IOSB

The Fraunhofer Institutes IOSB and FHR develop multi-sensor concepts for the detection of foreign bodies in products, here as an example in chocolate. They presented this and their other range of services at the Anuga FoodTec.

For further information please visit the project page “FoodScanner“.

Everything fresh? - A near infrared sensor detects the condition of food

Tomatoes on an electronic device
© Fraunhofer IOSB

A consortium of two Fraunhofer Institutes and two Bavarian universities has developed a scanner to determine the freshness of food, because millions of tons of food ends up in the trash every year, even though it is not spoiled.

Further information can be found on the project page “FoodScanner“.

Well sorted! researchers from the KIT and the Fraunhofer IOSB optimize bulk materials handling systems.

For a wine to become a top wine, many factors must come together: Not only the weather is important, above all a fast and careful processing of the grapes ensures quality. After harvesting, rotten berries, leaves and insects must be removed, as these leave bitter substances in the wine. So if a winegrower wants to achieve a good result, he has his harvest pre-sorted at great expense. An invention by researchers from KIT and Fraunhofer IOSB can now help winegrowers to separate their grapes in the best possible way. The new technology for sorting plants offers the possibility of sorting bulk materials faster, more cost-effectively and more accurately than is currently possible.

That “Inside Bulk“ is a very good example of the efficiency of joint projects, says Uwe Hanebeck: “There was excellent cooperation between all project partners. The dovetailing with other disciplines was very fruitful. We received numerous impulses from the exchange and were thus also able to develop the tracking algorithms. The result was a constant stream of new ideas.“

For further information please visit the project page “Inside Schüttgut“.

3rd International OCM Conference


From March 22 to 23, 2017, the 3rd International Conference on the Optical Characterization of Materials (OCM-2017) was held at the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, Systems Engineering and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe.

During the conference, trends and latest developments in the characterisation of materials will be discussed. Special attention will be paid to technology for the identification of the “spectral signatures“ of different materials and their use in industry and increasingly in applications for private end users.


The conference takes place every 2 years.

Updated information can be found on the website OCM-Conference.

“BauCycle“: Innovative solution approach for construction waste recycling

© Fraunhofer IOSB

Around five million tonnes of fine-grained building rubble are produced in Germany every year. Up to now, this fine fraction has been disposed of in landfills and partly reused as subsoil in road and landfill construction. In order to recover the valuable raw materials used in concrete, such as sand or gravel, and to be able to return them to the production cycle, four Fraunhofer institutes have set themselves the goal of implementing an innovative recycling system for fine-grained demolition waste. The “BauCycle“ project was launched for this purpose. The researchers are looking at the entire value-added chain - from innovative optical sorting processes and logistics networks to the development of high-quality building materials. This material reuse of demolition waste is intended to sustainably conserve primary raw materials and counteract a shortage of landfill space.

You can find further information on the projects page “BauCycle“.

“Lie detector for food.“

© Raths

IOSB experts on the current state of research:
Is the chicken leg fresh, the salad unsprayed, the yoghurt lactose-free? The first hand-held devices should soon give buyers certainty.

For further information please visit the projects page “FoodScanner“


Only the best have a chance.

Many light grapes
© Fraunhofer IOSB

High quality wines require excellent grapes. Sometimes the winegrowers peck like birds to select the rotten berries in the vineyard. Now there is optical sorting equipment to ensure the quality of the grapes.

For further information please visit the project page “GrapeSort“.



Separation according to desired coffee sorting

Food quality assessment
© Fraunhofer IOSB

Companies have always been interested in the possibility of producing coffee beans from free from all unwanted foreign bodies. Roasters who inspect their beans often discover something astonishing: in addition to the usual stones or pieces of wood, nails, plastic particles, coins or even cartridge cases are found now and then. Automatic bulk material sorters can help roasters to sort out the unwanted materials.

The Fraunhofer-IOSB has now developed a system that also selects the beans according to colour differences.

For further information please visit the project page “Food quality through sorting systems“.

Waste glass recycling - What happens to my thrown-in bottles?

Glass is a raw material that can be easily recovered by remelting used glass. Is it really important to throw the bottles into the compartment with the right colour or is everything poured back together afterwards?
When it arrives at the recycling plant, the glass is first crushed in a roller glass crusher to a grain size of 10-50 mm. Finally, the material enters the crucial optical sorting stage.

For further information please visit the website “Sorting systems for bulk materials and recycling“.