Fraunhofer-Institut für Holzforschung - Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI

Fraunhofer-Institut für Holzforschung, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI in Braunschweig works on current and future-oriented tasks in the use of wood and other regenerating raw materials. This comprises methods for the production of particle and fiber materials, surface technologies, wood preservation measures, environmental research and recycling. The research and development work serves a better utilization of the raw material wood and the quality improvement of wooden products. The maintenance of old building stock and the sanitation of half-timbered houses as well as the development and the testing of modern wooden constructions are also part of the main tasks of the WKI.

Company details

Bienroder Weg 54 E , Braunschweig , 38108 Germany

Locations Served

Business Type:
Research institute
Industry Type:
Forestry & Wood
Market Focus:
Internationally (various countries)

The Fraunhofer WKI focuses on the development of novel processes, technologies, and materials from renewable resources such as wood and other natural cellulosic materials. We investigate, improve, and develop methods and technologies for wood- and natural-fiber based composite materials, develop adhesives and coatings based on renewable resources, develop new technologies for fire protection of combustible materials and products, study the effect of materials and products on indoor air quality, and develop measurement and quality control technologies and systems targeted to products based on renewable resources. Our research portfolio is constantly evolving, reflecting the state of the art in our field and the needs of the industries and society that we serve.

Examples of our research include:

  • Innovative natural particle- and fiber-based materials
  • Testing procedures and technologies for the reduction of VOC emissions from products ranging from particleboard and furniture to printers
  • Development of environmentally friendly and durable coatings derived from renewable materials
  • Application of state of the art sensor technologies and real-time analytical methods in the production and quality control of natural- and wood-based materials
  • Recycling technologies for waste and residuals from processes using and containing natural fibrous materials
  • Development of new coatings for fire protection of combustible structural elements
  • Nondestructive evaluation of products ranging from plywood to wind power rotor blades
  • Application of novel analytical methods for indoor air quality measurements, and
  • Heat and mass transfer measurements on large scale building envelope segments

Our applied research activities rely on close collaboration with industry, and our capabilities, which include pilot-plant scale processing of natural fibrous materials, large climatic chambers, and state of the art laboratories position us as a leading institution that can address complex problems. The WKI is a member of a number of national and international consortia and plays a leading role in the InnovaWood Initiative that serves the forest and wood processing industries.

Special laboratory equipment and major items of equipment

Arrangement and major items of equipment

  • Process engineering test fields for wood-based materials, pulp materials and liquid coatings
  • Facilities for natural and time-lapse weathering of surfaces
  • Test houses for testing of building elements
  • Weathering simulator for outdoor and indoor climate for building elements up to house wall size
  • Chip harvester
  • Drying systems for wood particles and fibres on a semi-technical scale
  • Refiner for the manufacture of wood fibres
  • Continuous small-scale plant for the manufacture and the gluing of fibres for special materials (p. ex. MDF) from wood and annual plants
  • Hot presses
  • Plant for recycling of used furniture


  • Laboratory for glue and varnish analysis
  • Laboratory for analysis of air and material samples using gaschromatography, HPLC, mass spectroscopy, IR-spectroscopy, nuclear emission spectroscopy
  • Laboratory for microscopy, image analysis and surface testing
  • Laboratory for microscopy, image recognition and surface testing

Measuring equipment

  • Test chambers for determination of the long-term behaviour and for determination of formaldehyde emission
  • Test facility for wood-fuelled ovens and vessels
  • Measurements vehicle for emissions and immissions
  • Facilities for laser granulometry, thermal analysis and thermal gravimetry
  • Mobile computer-aided measuring facility for acquisition of operational data of board manufacturing plants
  • Devices for non-destructive testing using acoustical techniques
  • Blower door facility for determination of air tightness
  • test-bench (free-field half-space and sound analytic system) for air-borne acoustic noise emissions of floorings

Picture processing

  • Development system for real-time image processing
  • Thermographic camera for the detection of delaminations
  • Video-holographic device for deformation analysis

Material Analysis and Indoor Chemistry Special Equipment

  • GC/MS with thermal desorption unit
  • GC/FID with thermal desorption unit
  • GC/AED with Cold-Injection Systems
  • Headspace-GC/FID
  • GC/ECD with Cold-Injection-Systems
  • HPLC with Fluorescence/UV-Detection
  • Photoacoustic gas analysers for TVOC determination
  • Ion chromatograph
  • Microwave Digestion unit
  • ICP/AES-Spectrometer
  • FT-IR-Spectrometer
  • UV/VIS-Spectrometer
  • NDIR-Analysers for the determination of CO2 und N2O
  • 1m³-Glass emission test chambers
  • 1m³-Stainless steel emission test chamber
  • 250 l-Stainless steel chambers
  • 23l-Glass emission test chambers
  • Emission test cells
  • Test sites for combustion experiments
  • Devices for dust sampling
  • Condensation particle counter
  • Olfactometer
  • Ozone analyser
  • Luminescent bacteria test


Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Klauditz and the foundation of the »Institut für Holzforschung« (Institute for Wood Research)

When Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz died in a car crash on a business trip to Munich on June 30th, 1963, this was the strongest cut in the history of the institute for wood research since the end of the war. Wilhelm Klauditz was the propelling power of the institute and the point of crystallization for the activities of the Verein für Technische Holzfragen e.V.. He had given the impulse for the establishment of the institute for wood research under the most unfavorable circumstances directly after the war and he had initiated and conducted the essential research and co-operations himself. One year after his death the institute was renamed in his honor in »Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut für Holzforschung« and herewith drew the attention to the special character which Dr. Klauditz had given the institute.
In 1903, when Wilhelm-Klauditz was born, the wood research was still a young and few recognized discipline. There already were established research facilities in the field of forest science: since 1816 the Forstwissenschaftliche Akademie (forest science academy) in Tharandt near Dresden, since 1830 a Forstakademie (forest academy) in Eberswalde and since 1868 a further one in Hannoversch Münden. However, the material-related wood research as an independent field was few noticed and until after the first World War it was hardly established institutionally.

After his abitur Wilhelm Klauditz studied chemistry and in 1928 at the age of 25 he conferred a doctor's degree in engineering science. He then went with a grant of the Justus-Liebig-foundation to the University in Halle and worked there for a year as scientific assistant. In 1929 he joined the central laboratory of Koholyt GmbH in Cologne and at the later takeover of the company by Feldmühle AG he was promoted to the position of the deputy leader of the research department in Odermünde near Stettin. 1939 he changed to the Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung (German National Institute for wood research) in Eberswalde near Berlin where he worked as scientific employee.

The foundation of the Prussian institute for wood research in 1930, the later Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung (German National Institute for wood research), particularly is to owe to the engagement of Professor Dr. C. G. Schwalbe. The institute attended to the task of improving the wood usage of the German forestry by research and development works. 1934 Professor Schwalbe left the institute. Thereupon the institute, out of which the institute for wood research should result after the end of the second World War, was divided into a mechanical-technological institute and into a chemical-technological institute. As of 1939 these two independent institutes signed together under the name »Reichsanstalt für Holzforschung«.

Dr. Wilhelm Klauditz quickly established himself at the Reichsanstalt. 1944 he became the leader of the chemical-technological institute as the successor of the died director Prof. G. A. Kienitz. The leader of the mechanical-technological institute was the renowned wood researcher Franz Kollmann. In those days the work of the Reichsanstalt dealt with the development of more effective methods of the use of wood in order to diffuse the critical situation under the conditions of the war economy.

The surrender of the German Reich also meant the end for the Reichsinstitut. The location Eberswalde near Berlin lay in the middle of the front lines of the red army so that the institute had to be evacuated provisionally, in February to Tirol and already in May to Hohenschwangau and Hohenpeißberg in Bavaria. The complete technical equipment, the library and much of the research of the Reichsinstitut were lost. Under the rather worst conditions the work was continued for another two months until July 1945 when the work had to be finished for a lack of money.

At first Wilhelm Klauditz tried to safeguard the center of the staff for the re-establishment of an institute for wood research by suggesting the Technical University Munich an incorporation in the forestry department of the university. Work for other things, however, were in the foreground so that Klauditz had to look for a solution partly financed privately.

So Dr. Klauditz made contact to Braunschweig to his former academic teacher Prof. Dr. Gustav Gassner, who was the principal of the Technical University after the war. Gassner appeared very interested in getting the institute to Braunschweig but the circumstances did not allow the incorporation of the institute at the university, buildings wrecked completely and a desolate financial situation. Therefore, Klauditz pursued the idea to finance the institute partly by donations of the industry. He found support at the Homogenholzwerken GmbH which offered in December 1945 to take a part of the costs for the continuation of the chemical-technical institute. This was the impulse which was necessary to motivate further sponsors. The idea arose in spring of the year 1946 having the financing being realized by a »Verein für technische Holzfragen«, probably activated by the Brunswick professor for aircraft construction and lightweight construction Dr.-Ing. Hermann Winter. The support of the town, the forestry commission as well as that of the chamber of commerce, the university and the enterprises MIAG and Homogenholzwerke encouraged Dr. Klauditz to invite to the foundation meeting on July 7th, 1946.

Named »Versuchs- und Beratungsstelle für technische Holznutzung des Vereins für technische Holzfragen e.V.«, in July 1946 the institute moved into its rented rooms at Steinriedendamm. The »building« was a hut of 260 sqm, partly war-shattered and partly structurally incomplete. However, the space was sufficient and after three month of overhaul the first research works could begin. In August 1946 Klauditz went to Bavaria to collect the remainung equipment which had been saved there from the Reichsinstitut. The transfer was not simple, because Bavaria did not belong to the British but to the American occupation zone.

In 1946, when the institute gave itself the name »Institut für Holzforschung«, Dr. Klauditz had achieved his first goal: The number of members had increased steadily and counted 102 members now. The financial background was as good as protected now. While during the first years the research works dealt with plain economic questions regarding the raw material, now the main emphasis more and more switched towards the development of manufacturing methods for artificial wood-based materials.

In the year 1952 the institute - as an appreciation of the special scientific performances - was integrated within the Technical University of Braunschweig, the maintenance remained untouched of this, though. The recognition of the particle board as the most important material for furniture is owed to the research work of Dr. Klauditz in this time.

He still saw the laying of the foundation stone for the new institute building, a matter that was near to Dr. Klauditz's heart, and also the completion of the building in the year 1961, but not the incorporation of the institute into the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in 1970. The gap that left his unexpected accidental death in the year 1963 was so big that it was possible to find a suitable successor for the management of the institute only five years after same.