BASF presents innovative products and technologies for a wide variety of industries
Chemistry and sustainability are a perfect match – as BASF has recognized for a long time. As the world’s leading chemical company, we provide innovative solutions that make an important contribution to supporting the sustainable transformation of society and the optimal use of limited resources, said Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner, member of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer of BASF, at the company’s Research Press Conference held. Maas-Brunner and BASF’s technology experts highlighted current innovation projects as concrete examples of this contribution.
BASF continuously develops new and even more sustainable products and technologies. “This is possible thanks to our unique innovation power, the success of which is evident in numerous indicators,” Maas-Brunner said.
In recent years, the company has continuously increased its sales generated with products launched on the market in the past five years that stemmed from R&D activities; they rose to around €12 billion in 2022. This innovation power is also reflected in the more than 1,000 patent applications filed last year, making BASF a leader in the industry once again. “I am particularly happy that 40 percent of these patents are inventions with a particular focus on sustainability and a further 20 percent are related to digitalization,” said Maas-Brunner.
Around 10,000 employees in research and development worldwide have contributed to these successes. “As Chief Technology Officer, I am very proud of this highly qualified research and development team.” One current research project that Maas-Brunner discussed in detail was the development of materials that significantly enhance the efficiency of water electrolysis. Water electrolysis is used to produce CO2-free hydrogen that is essential for the transformation of the chemical industry.
Making sustainability transparent
To support its customers on the journey to greater sustainability, the company co-developed an internationally recognized method that it uses to continuously evaluate its product portfolio: Sustainable Solution Steering, also known as TripleS. With this evaluation method, BASF analyzes the sustainability contribution of its products and classifies them in five categories: Pioneer, Contributor, Standard, Monitored and Challenged.
“With TripleS we are transparently measuring the sustainability of our activities and how we are improving,” said Maas-Brunner.
With examples of five innovative products and technologies, BASF experts demonstrated how customers from a variety of industries can better reach their sustainability goals.
Building better roads
Roads worldwide are subject to intensifying stress, including increased heavy-duty traffic and more extreme climate conditions. As a result, roads usually need to be replaced after 10 to 12 years. With B2Last (Bitumen to Last), BASF has developed an innovative bitumen additive that improves the durability of roads and reduces the carbon footprint during construction.
Flying with improved aerodynamics
When an airplane has lower friction resistance in the air, its fuel consumption and therefore its CO2 emissions also decrease. Since the 1980s, researchers have been looking for solutions to reduce aerodynamic drag. Inspiration can also be found in nature: the skin of a shark, for example, which has tiny ridges on its surface that reduce drag when the shark swims through water.
Now researchers from BASF and Lufthansa Technik have achieved a breakthrough with the development of NovaFlex SharkSkin. This functional film reduces drag on surfaces, is UV-resistant and can withstand rapid temperature changes and mechanical stress.
The innovative surface film – covered with 50-micrometer-high riblets – is being applied to Lufthansa Cargo’s entire 777F freight fleet as well as all Boeing 777-300ER passenger airplanes flown by SWISS International Air Lines. Applying NovaFlex SharkSkin to the flow-related parts of the aircraft reduces the aerodynamic drag by 1.1 percent.
Bringing cosmetics to life
Numerous different bacteria live on human skin and are important for the health of our largest organ. Until now, however, not much was known about their exact function. A study conducted by BASF researchers has now shown that Lactobacillus crispatus bacteria are very abundant on the skin of younger people around their eyes but are not found inside the wrinkles of older people. In vitro studies demonstrated that these live bacteria stimulate the production of collagen in skin cells.
Based on these findings, BASF developed Probiolift. It is the first cosmetic active ingredient that contains a living probiotic – Lactobacillus crispatus bacteria – found on human skin.
Protecting crops more precisely
Weeds on agricultural land can lead to crop losses of 30 percent or more. Farmers usually control weeds by spraying the entire field with herbicides at a standard dose rate. To enable more precise and sustainable weed control, BASF and Bosch developed ONE SMART SPRAY in a joint venture.
ONE SMART SPRAY is an innovative, integrated hardware and software solution. Using BASF’s digital agronomic platform xarvio, it offers real-time automated weed detection and treatment in row crops.
Driving battery materials into the future
Electric vehicles charged with green electricity do not produce any emissions when they are driven. However, manufacturing these vehicles is resource-intensive, as is the production of the cathode active materials (CAM) that are needed for their batteries.
BASF therefore aims to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of its battery materials throughout the entire value chain. The focus is on three areas: the CAM itself, the production process and the recycling of battery materials from end-of-life batteries.
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