Chemistry is a cross-sectional technology that helps us find solutions for the challenges arising from global megatrends. We group our research projects in the growth clusters plant biotechnology, white biotechnology, raw material change, energy management, and nanotechnology. In these clusters, the focus is on technologies and markets of the future.
One of the core activities of the plant biotechnology growth cluster is to develop crops that offer farmers better and more reliable harvests – in order to allow the available farmland to produce food for a growing population. Our activities include a partnership with Monsanto to develop genetically modified plants that are more stress-tolerant and higher-yielding. The first product of this cooperation is a drought-tolerant corn (maize), which is scheduled to be introduced on the U.S. market in 2012. Our other partners in the development of important crops include Bayer CropScience (rice), the research center Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (sugarcane) and KWS Saat AG (sugar beet).
In the white biotechnology growth cluster, we use innovative technologies for biocatalysis and fermentation. For example, we are cooperating with our partner Solix Biofuels to research the production of specialty chemicals using algae.
Solix is using its own technology to test various kinds of algae for BASF. Algae are able to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) during their life cycle and integrate it into their products of metabolism. This type of project enhances our technology portfolio in the field of industrial biotechnology.
In the raw material change growth cluster, we are looking for alternatives to crude oil as a raw material for the chemical industry. In addition to crude oil, in the long term, natural gas, renewable raw materials, and even CO2 could become starting materials for our value-adding chains, thus diversifying our raw materials sources. We are developing new technologies to use CO2 in the production of plastics, plastic precursors and important intermediates.
The growing demand for energy is a driving factor behind our energy management growth cluster. Around 20% of global electricity consumption is used to generate light. We are working on the development of new materials for energy-saving light solutions based on organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In a joint project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, we are developing a highly efficient and stable blue emitter system – a key element for new OLED light sources.
Sustainable system solutions for the automotive and construction industries are one focus for our nanotechnology growth cluster. Examples include heat management systems with intelligent infrared pigments as well as new foams that regulate the heat absorption and release in cars or buildings. As a result, heating and cooling technology requires less energy.
The success of our projects encourages us to continue to address global megatrends with our research activities. Research and development are essential for BASF’s long-term growth and they make an important contribution to sustainable development.