Press release

Alfred Wegener Institute, PlanktonTech and imare for the first time with their own stand at Hannover Messe, the world’s most important technology event

[17. April 2012] 

Bremerhaven, 17 April 2012. A five times six metre pavilion along with models of a 3.6 metre high offshore wind turbine and lightweight sailing boat are the visual attractions at the stand of the Bremerhaven researchers at this year’s Hanover Fair in Hall 6. From 23 to 27 April 2012 the plankton biomechanics and bionics working group of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, the virtual Helmholtz PlanktonTech Institute and the Institute for Marine Resources (imare) will be presenting themselves with their own stand for the first time. They will be exhibiting their latest projects, with a focus on those developed in collaboration with architects, the offshore wind industry and yacht builders.



All products presented have one thing in common: to save weight and material the designs have been modelled on nature. An industrial partner typically comes to the researchers with a component or an idea. The researchers then search for comparable forms in nature. The bionic scientists frequently find models for new designs in the world of diatoms – microscopically small algae with silicate shell. This shell structure is mapped by computer and then adjusted to the requirements of industry using detailed computer models.


The technical boundaries of the future construction materials are typically incorporated into the calculations at this stage. After several adjustment steps the researchers then prepare a design which with comparable mechanical strength is only half the weight as components so far used. For example, the foundation structure – i.e. the base – of the lightweight offshore windmill presented weighs only 48 per cent of similar structures.


The pavilion presented at the Hanover Fair shows that design elements can be combined very well with the new lightweight construction approach. It was designed by the Jena Lightweight Construction Institute and has already been exhibited at an exhibition featuring Frank Stella’s art in Jena.


Most interesting information on bionic lightweight and optimisation methods is provided by the new web site of the ELiSE project (Evolutionary Light Structure Engineering):


Industrial partners may also find extensive information on technology transfer at the Alfred Wegener Institute at:


Notes for Editors:   Your contact partner is Daniel Siegel, project engineer at the Alfred Wegener Institute / imare (Tel.: +49 (0)471 4831-1365; email: Your contact partner in the Communications and Media Department of the Alfred Wegener Institute is Dr. Folke Mehrtens (Tel. +49 (0)471 4831-2007; email:


The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans. The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research ice breaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the national and international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.


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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.