Innovations in the Segments – Examples

Research and development expenses by segment 2019
Research and development expenses by segment 2019 (pie chart)

Chemicals: In a research project on an alternative production method for sodium acrylate, we are investigating the use of CO2 as a chemical feedstock. The focus is on finding more efficient and more resource-friendly synthesis methods. Sodium acrylate is an important starting material for superabsorbents, which are widely used in diapers and other hygiene products. Unlike the current propylene-based production method, the new process uses CO2 and ethylene, which are converted using a catalyst. BASF experts have since made significant progress on this process. They demonstrated that it can be successfully implemented at laboratory scale, an important milestone toward industrial application. The use of CO2 in the new process could replace around 30% of the fossil fuels, provided that a larger-scale process also proves to be stable and energetically favorable.

BASF launched a new vinyl monomer in 2019: vinyl methyl oxazolidinone (VMOX). VMOX is particularly suitable as a reactive diluent in ultraviolet curing coatings and inks, which can for example be used for digital UV printing. In these applications, the vinyl monomer offers technical benefits compared with conventional reactive diluents. The monomer brings good properties on all common substrates, even at low dosages. It also enables more brilliant colors in the final printed products and coatings. VMOX also allows innovative coatings formulations with a favorable toxicological profile compared with other, similar products.

Materials: The semi-crystalline polyamide Ultramid® Vision offers very high light transmission with low light scattering compared with opaque standard polyamides. Its high UV and temperature resistance, scratch resistance and chemical resistance make Ultramid® Vision an important building block wherever visual control or light design play a role, for example in backlit switches or buttons in cars. The polyamide has now been used in a car interior for the first time – for the window regulators of a German automotive manufacturer. Ultramid® Vision can be repeatedly exposed to aggressive media such as sun cream, cleaning agents and solvents without sustaining damage. The polyamide thus offers designers and developers a broad range of possibilities for realizing design features and lighting elements not only in car interiors, but in various consumer and industrial applications as well.

The new insulation material Cavipor® FTX 1 combines the advantages of a mineral-based insulation material with the easy, safe and clean processability of a foam system. Cavipor® FTX 1 offers an insulation performance comparable to mineral wool and expanded polystyrene (EPS) and is particularly suitable for the energetic renovation of buildings with double-wall masonry. One of its main advantages is how simple it is to process: The three aqueous initial components are aerated at the site, resulting in a flowable foam free from dust and fibers. It is then injected into the cavity of the wall. There, the foam cures and dries without further expansion, fixing it as a seamless insulating layer. These process advantages, plus the fact that Cavipor® FTX 1 is non-combustible, fiber-free and low-emission, make it a groundbreaking innovation.

Industrial Solutions: Preventing coatings from yellowing is key for automotive refinish coatings. Basonat® HI NG is an aliphatic polyisocyanate hardener for two-component polyurethane (2C PU) coatings. It provides outstanding durability and resistance against light and weather, enabling complex formulations with significantly reduced yellowing compared with standard HI-grade hardeners. With this new product, BASF fulfils the market’s highest technical performance requirements.

Modern farming faces many challenges, including how to balance the need for greater yields of fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously meeting the ever-stringent environmental protection requirements of organic food production. The light and heat stabilizer Tinuvin® NOR® 356 protects and extends the life of agricultural films that are exposed to very high levels of ultraviolet radiation, heat and crop treatments such as elemental sulfur and the compounds approved in certified organic farming to prevent plant diseases and fertilize the soil. The improved film protection and longer life of NOR®-stabilized greenhouse covers increase productivity, improve crop quality and reduce plastic waste for farmers, which makes them more competitive.

Surface Technologies: Styrene is a building block of the plastics industry. With the recently launched styrene catalyst StyroStar® S6-42 Select, BASF has brought to market an innovation that reduces the formation of by-products such as benzene and toluene thanks to improved selectivity. StyroStar® S6-42 Select is a robust and durable catalyst, combining excellent mechanical stability with exceptional performance.

Together with Lufthansa Technik AG, Hamburg, Germany, BASF has developed a functional film that helps to reduce carbon emissions from air travel. The film has a unique surface structure consisting of riblets of around 50 micrometers in size. These reduce drag and thereby optimize the aerodynamics on the relevant parts of the aircraft. This can reduce fuel consumption and the resulting carbon emissions by up to 3%. The film is exposed to strong ultraviolet radiation at high altitudes and extreme variations in temperature. BASF therefore put a high priority on durability in addition to aerodynamics, during the development process. The technology can be used on all aircraft types, including older models.

Nutrition & Care: Nephydrat® is a bioactive ingredient that supports the skin’s barrier function and helps it to retain moisture, creating an even, fresh complexion. BASF sources the active ingredient from the spiny peel of the rambutan fruit, grown organically in close cooperation with local partners in Vietnam as part of a socially and environmentally responsible supply chain. Nephydrat® is preservative-free, 100% natural origin and certified according to the COSMOS standard for organic and natural cosmetics.

BASF has launched two digital virtual assistants to cover key customer needs: ZoomLab™ and RegXcellence™. The formulation assistant ZoomLab™ predicts optimized formulations of pharmaceutical drugs faster and with more precision than is possible today. Finding the right combination and balance between the active pharmaceutical ingredient and excipients to optimize drug performance is immensely time and resource consuming. Depending on the properties of the active ingredient and the intended dosage, ZoomLab™ predicts the best excipients. In addition, ZoomLab™ provides an intuitive rating system describing the suitability of an excipient as well as formulation tips to make the process run smoothly. This allows for a much higher precision, speed and reduction of ingredients used in the drug development process. RegXcellence™ makes registration processes seamless, saving customers time and costs during important milestones such as qualification of ingredients and market authorization of their drugs.

Agricultural Solutions: At BASF, we believe in finding the right balance for success. We believe that with our connected offer, we can achieve this for the environment, society and agriculture alike. We continually invest to expand our portfolio, focusing our research activities on strategic crop combinations, known as crop systems. In 2019, we invested €879 million in research and development in the Agricultural Solutions division, representing around 11% of sales for the segment.

Our well-stocked innovation pipeline now has an even stronger focus on sustainable solutions. It comprises seeds and traits, chemical and biological crop protection, digital and regionally tailored products and solutions. We estimate the peak sales potential1 of products with launch dates between 2019 and 2029 to be more than €7.5 billion. More than 30 pipeline products will be launched worldwide by 2029. These will enable higher yields and quality and even more sustainable production. In 2019, we successfully launched our new fungicide Revysol®. It meets the highest level of regulatory standards and offers outstanding biological performance against a range of difficult-to-control pathogens in specialty and row crops. Luximo® and Tirexor®, our herbicides to manage difficult-to-control grasses and broadleaf weeds, are expected to enter the market from 2020 onward. Broflanilide, our insecticide to help farmers protect specialty and field crops from insects such as potato beetles and caterpillars, is scheduled for market launch from 2020. We also launched Poncho® Votivo® 2.0 seed treatment in 2019. It includes a systemic insecticide and two biological components to control insect pests and protect corn (maize) seed from disease-causing nematodes.

For seeds and traits, we will further strengthen our innovation pipeline with new traits, including the soybean technology in our LibertyLink® GT27™ trait platform2 that has been available to growers under the Credenz® brand as well as under licensee brands since 2019. Future launches will also include proprietary stacks offering resistance to nematode and Asian soybean rust. New traits to increase yields and stress resistance in soybean and corn (maize)3 are under development. We are constantly improving the seed genetics and trait innovations for our FiberMax® and Stoneville® cotton brands, for example with a proprietary herbicide tolerance product, which will be launched before mid-decade. New breeding tools will continue to speed up our innovation cycles for InVigor® canola seed. LibertyLink® yellow-seed canola can be grown under more challenging conditions and will provide new rotation options for wheat growers in drier areas of North America. From mid-decade, hybrid wheat seed will help growers in North America and Europe to optimize yield, production stability and grain quality, as well as to improve profitability and sustainability. Recently launched vegetable seed innovations contribute to a healthy lifestyle and help reduce the environmental impact of food production. Innovative breeding processes ensure a constant supply of commercially successful vegetable seed varieties, mainly marketed under the Nunhems® brand.

BASF will also apply precision technologies and digitalization to seize future innovation opportunities in agriculture. This includes new, outcome-based business models marketed under the xarvio® brand. These will enable farmers to achieve yield forecasts that have been agreed in advance.

1 Peak sales describes the highest sales value to be expected in one year. For more information, see the Glossary

2 The GT27™ trait and LibertyLink® GT27™ are developed and marketed in cooperation with MS Technologies LLC, West Point, Iowa.

3 Traits developed in cooperation with Bayer Crop Science