Research for a more sustainable future
16.03.2022 Upcycling wood, promoting sharing, preventing food waste or recycling energy storage systems: researchers from different departments at BFH are working on different projects with the same goal. They aim to close cycles and make the economy more sustainable. Here are four examples...
Upcycling low-cost wood into high-performance building materials
Business is booming in timber construction. Although Swiss forests provide sufficient amounts of wood for this boom, there’s strong demand for the high-quality types needed for load-bearing structures in particular. In keeping with this trend, researchers at BFH are developing a new building product based on innovative machining technology. This product opens the door to unprecedented construction practices – most of a tree’s wood volume will be put to use, with scrap wood finding its way into a new life cycle. In this way, BFH is making an important contribution to optimising material cycles in the construction sector.
A sharing economy without rebound effects
The industrial production of goods is one of the greatest sources of CO2. To effectively counteract climate change, CO2 emissions must be reduced. That’s why researchers at BFH are investigating how to motivate consumers to buy less and share more instead, in what is known as the sharing economy. They’re also trying to understand how to encourage these people to spend the money they save by sharing in a way that conserves resources. This is the only way to prevent the rebound effect, in which the CO2 benefits of the sharing economy are immediately negated.
Preventing food waste with mini-factories on the farm
One third of all food worldwide goes to waste. How can such losses be reduced in the future? There are many research projects at BFH that are addressing this question, like ‘Food on the Road’, which is all about adding value for the farm with fruits and vegetables that don’t quite pass muster. Mobile processing stations sort and package such fresh produce as ‘crooked carrots’ right there in the field. If these mini-factories succeed in producing marketable goods and selling them on the farm, large losses can be avoided.
Recycling photovoltaic modules and energy storage systems
Solar fields are growing more and more popular. Individual panels, however, often end up in the waste before they’ve reached their maximum possible service life. To counteract this waste of resources, BFH has partnered with the EU research project CIRCUSOL to develop circular business models for the solar industry. The focus is on photovoltaic modules and energy storage systems that are easy to repair and recycle. A lot can also be done to improve the efficient use of resources in EV batteries. Once they’ve served their purpose in vehicles, these batteries can be used as decentralised energy storage units for years to come.
For more on BFH’s commitment to a more sustainable world, visit our topic page at