Research Focus Areas – Examples

  • New catalysts for olefin production
  • Long-lasting crop protection with beneficial insect-friendly insecticide
  • Biopolymers with enhanced properties

Our focus areas in research are derived from the three major areas in which chemistry-based innovations will play a key role in the future:

  • Resources, environment and climate
  • Food and nutrition
  • Quality of life

At BASF, we develop new technologies that can be used to significantly reduce emissions. In collaboration with Linde and academic partners, we successfully produced syngas from methane and CO2 in a process known as “dry reforming.” This can be converted into dimethyl ether (DME) in an intermediate step and then into olefins, the main intermediate in the chemical industry. New catalysts from BASF are used in both the production of syngas and its subsequent conversion into DME. Following complex high-throughput screenings, an automated testing method with parallel experiments, and a data-based optimization approach for the catalyst structures, scientists from the Process Research & Chemical Engineering research division also developed proprietary production processes for the catalysts. Together with employees from the Catalysts division, the researchers transferred the new catalysts to production and worked on pilot tests in 2019.

The insecticide Inscalis® was developed by a team of scientists from the research division Bioscience Research and the Agricultural Solutions segment in collaboration with Meiji Seika Pharma Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, and the Kitasato Institute. The highly effective insecticide offers farmers extra long-lasting crop protection without affecting beneficial pollinators like bees. Inscalis® contains an active ingredient based on a natural fermentation process using the Penicillium coprobium fungus. By optimizing the fermentation conditions, the researchers were able to considerably increase the yield of the natural substance pyripyropene A (PPA). The PPA is refined into the final active ingredient using chemical synthesis in an optimized two-step process. A patented formulation concept also ensures a significantly improved active ingredient uptake. The active ingredient was first approved in Australia, India, Canada, the United States and China in 2018, followed by further approvals in Mexico and Argentina in 2019. In 2019, the researchers also won the BASF’s internal innovation prize for their outstanding research work.

For many years now, one focus area of BASF’s research has been the full biodegradability of biopolymers in various biospheres and soils. Our multidisciplinary Research Verbund ensures that scientists with a wide range of skills adopt a holistic approach in driving forward this complex area of research. Employees from the research division Advanced Materials & Systems Research continued to expand our competence profile in 2019. With ecovio® M 2351, we have developed the first plastic for mulch films to be certified as biodegradable according to the European standard DIN EN 17033.

Battery materials

Around the world, experts in the Process Research & Chemical Engineering research division are working on innovative cathode active materials for high-performance lithium-ion batteries to meet the growing demand for powerful, reliable and affordable electric vehicles. Digital methods such as machine learning enable us to make early predictions about the quality of new materials, such as their performance or life span. This helps to accelerate research. The data used include electrochemical measurements on battery cells and images from electron microscopes, which are analyzed with respect to various characteristics such as surface properties or defects.

Battery materials (Photo)