Growth and technology fields

Research focus areas

  • Growth fields with attractive sales potential in 2020, for example Enzymes, E-Power Management and Wind Energy
  • Technology fields provide technological foundation:
    Materials, Systems & Nanotechnology:
    development of new systems and functional materials, as well as nanotechnology;
    Raw Material Change: alternatives and supplements to crude oil as a raw material;
    White Biotechnology:
    methods and processes for efficient and resource-saving production of chemical and biochemical products

In order to develop future business areas for BASF, we have defined growth and technology fields for which we expect high sales potential in 2020. The focus of our research is derived from three major areas in which chemistry-based innovations will play a key role in the future: “resources, environment and climate,” “food and nutrition” and “quality of life.” We regularly review the attractiveness of these growth and technology fields for BASF and adjust our portfolio as necessary.

Growth fields

In the Enzymes growth field, we conduct research on, for example, enzymes for human and animal nutrition as well as for detergents and cleaners. Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts to enable or accelerate biological and chemical processes. In 2013, we expanded our technological basis in industrial enzyme technology: With the purchase of the enzyme technology for detergents and cleaners of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, we aim to strengthen BASF’s position in these markets. In addition, we entered into a research and licensing agreement with the biotechnology company Dyadic International Inc., through which we can use a technology developed by Dyadic for the enhancement and production of enzymes and other proteins. Furthermore, we are developing a highly effective protease for animal nutrition together with Direvo Industrial Biotechnology GmbH. This enzyme helps animals to better absorb and make use of the nutrients in their diet. Moreover, the acquisition of Verenium Corporation has afforded us access to an enzyme technology platform for human and animal nutrition.

The growing demand for energy around the world requires innovative concepts for the resource-saving and efficient generation, transmission, storage and use of electricity. In our E-Power Management growth field, we conduct research on, for example, an innovative method for manufacturing hightemperature superconductors. They transmit electric currents with almost no loss, opening up considerable savings potential. With the acquisition of the technology company Deutsche Nanoschicht GmbH, BASF now has access to a technology that makes the production of high-temperature superconductors significantly more efficient while using far fewer resources. We are working to get this innovative technology ready for the market.

The Wind Energy growth field centers on wind power as an alternative energy source. The wind turbines of the future must be manufactured and operated particularly efficiently as well as provide higher maximum power. An interdisciplinary team of researchers, developers and market experts are therefore working on projects such as new and improved materials for rotor blades. At the same time, our attention is focused on systems that combine different materials so skillfully as to create advantages in the design, manufacture and operation of the fans.

Research focus areas: growth and technology fields

Enlarge image

Technology fields

Various cross-sectional technologies provide the technological basis for developing the growth fields. We have grouped these into three technology fields: Materials, Systems & Nanotechnology, Raw Material Change and White Biotechnology.

The challenges of the future require intelligent solutions based on new systems and functional materials, which means that formulation and application expertise are gaining significance. In the Materials, Systems & Nanotechnology technology field, for example, BASF researchers have developed a high-performance insulation panel based on polyurethane that requires only half as much space to do the same job as conventional materials. SLENTITE™ thus offers more freedom of design – for example, in interior insulation. Thanks to its tiny, only 50 to 100-nanometer-sized pores which transfer hardly any heat, SLENTITE™ provides especially efficient insulation and a pleasant interior temperature.

In the Raw Material Change technology field, we are searching for alternatives and supplements to crude oil as a raw material for the chemical industry. With natural gas, carbon dioxide and renewable resources, we aim to expand the raw material basis of our value chains in the long term. For example, we began a research collaboration in 2013 with the Linde Group and ThyssenKrupp, subsidized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in order to develop innovative technology for the environmentally friendly production of syngas from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. First, a new high-temperature technology will be used to obtain hydrogen and carbon from natural gas in an especially cost-efficient and environmentally friendly manner. The second step involves using CO2 – from other industrial processes, as well – and hydrogen to make syngas. Syngas is an important basic product for the chemical industry.

In the technology field White Biotechnology, we are researching methods and processes for the efficient and resource-saving production of chemical and biochemical products. Fermentation and biocatalysis increasingly represent competitive alternatives to chemical processes. For example, our researchers are working on the large-scale synthesis of acrylamide from acrylonitrile using a naturally occurring soil bacterium. Acrylamide is the precursor for polyacrylamide, which is used for applications such as water treatment flocculants. Thanks to lower costs, this biocatalytic process is expected to secure our future competitiveness in this field.