TEPHA - Technical Product Harvesting

Project duration: 2014-2016

Funding: Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments, grant no. OPBF091

Principle investigator at the Goethe University, Department Evolutionary Ecology & Environmental Toxicology (E3T)
  • Prof. Dr. Henner Hollert
  • Thomas-Benjamin Seiler

Project process
  • Christoph Kämpfer (PhD thesis)

Cooperation partners
  • Institute for Machine Elements and Systems Engeneering, Chair of Structures and Structural Design (Trako)
  • Institute of Botany and Molecular Genetics (all from RWTH Aachen University)

Within the interdisciplinary research project "TEPHA - Technical Product Harvesting" scientists from mechanical engineering, architecture, botany and ecology are exploring the options for environmentally friendly and sustainable production. The aim of the entire project is to use suitable biomass for the production of technical products. Specifically, the focus is on organic materials, which are influenced in their natural growth and as defined in required semi-finished or usable components for architecture or mechanical engineering applications. The Department of Ecosystem Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Research investigates the ecological implications of near net shape grown products. The ecological expertise should be firstly integrated into a database in which also the mechanical engineering related and architectural requirements, as well as the botanical properties of potential plants are combined. On the ecological side, specific information on candidate plants such as the nutrient, fertilizer and water requirements, impacts of plant cultivation on humans and ecosystems, as well as information on potential land use, are inserted into the database. The aim of this database is to enable a reasonable and reproducible way of future plant selection, which both meets the technical requirements and is environmentally responsible. Secondly, the main objective of the environmental sciences subproject is the assessment of the overall environmental impact caused by near net shape grown products. In a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) all stages of the product life cycle from raw material acquisition, through processing and use phase to the end-of-life treatment are investigated regarding potential adverse environmental impacts. Thus, a reasonable statement about the viability of the near net shape growth of plants, also in comparison to the conventional manufacturing process of corresponding components, from an environmental perspective is strived for. Bamboo grown in Aachen was used as test plant to construct a seat shell which was compared to seat shells made of PP or bamboo imported from China.


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Henner Hollert

Goethe University Frankfurt
Biologicum, Campus Riedberg
Max-von-Laue-Str. 13
60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Room: 3.319
Phone: +49 (0)69 798 42171
Fax: +49 (0)69 798 42161
Email: hollert(at)bio(dot)uni-frankfurt(dot)de

Former Affiliation: