Research focus areas

  • Chemistry-based innovations play important role in answering questions of the future
  • Growth fields with attractive sales potential in 2020
  • Technology fields provide the basis for developing our growth fields

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. These research focus subjects are derived from the three major areas in which chemistrybased 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.

Research focus areas: growth and technology fields

Research focus areas: growth and technology fields (graphic)

Growth fields – examples

Innovative mobility concepts such as electromobility require batteries that are high-performance, affordable and safe. Therefore, in the Batteries for Mobility growth field, we are researching important system components of a battery, such as new cathode materials with a higher energy density and improved cost-benefit profile, and electrolytes for increased lifespan in lithium-ion batteries. In 2014, we expanded our research and development facilities in Beachwood, Ohio, and Amagasaki, Japan, where we will explore new cathode materials and improved electrolyte systems in the future. In order to better understand battery materials and stimulate new ideas, we work together with renowned scientists worldwide in our “Research Network Electrochemistry and Batteries.” We decided in 2014 to continue the university network, which was established in 2010, for another five years.

The growing world population’s increasing demand for food requires additional solutions for healthier plants and higher yields that supplement conventional crop protection. This is why we research new products in the Functional Crop Care growth field that, for example, improve plant growth, better protect seeds, and help plants use scarce resources like water and nutrients more efficiently. Farmers all over the world mainly employ urea-based fertilizers in order to ensure that plants are supplied with enough nitrogen. However, some of the nitrogen contained in these fertilizers is lost as gaseous ammonia. Limus® can greatly reduce these losses. Thanks to its special formulation, this product also enables better storage of urea-based fertilizers. Limus® guarantees farmers both efficient fertilizer application and higher yields.

One of our projects in the Automotive Lightweight Composites growth field is the search for innovative materials and material systems that can be used to manufacture load-bearing components, such as the frame or passenger compartment, out of fiber-reinforced plastic. We are developing composite systems based on epoxy, polyurethane and polyamide resins. Carbon fibers lend themselves particularly well to reinforcement materials thanks to their high rigidity. In addition to developing the materials themselves, we are also adapting composite systems to the automotive industry’s new manufacturing processes in order to make their transfer into large-scale production economically viable.

Technology fields

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

Technology fields

Materials, Systems & Nanotechnology


Raw Material Change

White Biotechnology

Development of new systems and functional materials as well as nanotechnology


Alternatives and supplements to crude oil as raw material

Methods and processes for efficient and resource-saving production of chemical and biochemical products

The challenges of the future require intelligent solutions based on new systems and functional materials, which means that formulation and application expertise is increasing in significance. In the Materials, Systems & Nanotechnology technology field, BASF researchers work for example on new color filters that can be used in laptop and computer monitors as well as television screens. Irgaphor Red® S 3621 CF, BASF’s new red pigment, ensures especially high image quality in liquid crystal displays. Thanks to its tiny particles that are less than 40 nanometers in size, light is less scattered in the color filter. The viewer therefore sees a very sharp image with clear colors and high contrast.

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. To do so, we use catalysts that make many chemical reactions more cost-effective, more environmentally compatible, or in some cases even possible. In the BasCat joint laboratory at the Technical University (TU) of Berlin, we and our partners seek to gain fundamental knowledge on activating less reactive molecules in order to accelerate the development of industrial catalysts in the long term. We started operations at the new BasCat laboratory building on the TU Berlin campus in 2014.

In the technology field White Biotechnology, we are researching methods and techniques for creating chemical and biochemical products in an efficient and resource-saving manner. Fermentation and biocatalysis increasingly represent competitive alternatives to chemical processes. Our researchers are working on new enzymes for technical applications that use molecular biological methods to improve the applications’ properties. Furthermore, they optimize fermentational production processes in order to produce enzymes on a large scale at high yield.