Raw materials

Our natural environment is composed of both biotic and abiotic raw materials. Their extraction is associated with energy input and often environmental damage. Furthermore, abiotic raw materials are non-renewable resources, at least in reference to human timescales and production times. Their usage should be as efficient as possible in order to provide future generations with sufficient access to raw materials according to the principle of generational equity. Biotic resources such as wood are generally renewable resources, however, their consumption is far from simple due to the land use conflict. The most important approach towards a resource-conserving economy is the absolute reduction of primary raw material consumption by using secondary raw materials. This requires a focus on a circular economy and better knowledge of man-made deposits (e.g. urban mining).

Our key research topics


Extractive raw materials

Extractive raw materials belong to the group of abiotic raw materials that are mined as metals or minerals. These non-renewable resources are the foundation for our economic development and the basic components of our goods.


Secondary raw materials

Global population growth, increased consumption and requirements for future technologies, e.g. for the Energy Transition, are among the factors driving primary raw material demand. In consequence, the application of secondary raw materials represents a key instrument for resource conservation. ifeu carries out research in a number of projects on material flows, mapping of anthropogenic deposits and landfill mining.

Pile of firewood

Biobased materials

In addition to the use of biomass for food and animal feed purposes, ifeu also explores the application of biomass as a renewable raw material, i.e. the environmental assessment of the ecological consequences associated with the wide range of biomass applications.

Schornstein CO2

CO2 as raw material

In the post-fossil fuel age of the future, it will be necessary to replace the natural gas and crude oil used to manufacture today’s chemical raw materials and synthetic materials with renewable carbon sources. One option is to use CO2 from a range of sources in biological and chemical processes.


Regine Vogt

Dipl. Ing. Technical Environment Protection
Phone: +49 (0)6221 4767 22
E-Mail: regine.vogt@ifeu.de

Florian Knappe

Dipl. Geograph (graduate in geography)
Phone: +49 (0)6221 4767 26
E-Mail: florian.knappe@ifeu.de