Research Focus Areas – Examples

  • Innovative recycling method for lithium-ion batteries
  • Sustainable fungal disease control
  • Solvent-free polyurethane system for synthetic leather

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
Recycling lithium-ion batteries (Photo)

Recycling lithium-ion batteries

  • Recovery of high-purity lithium
  • High yields

Employees from the Process Research & Chemical Engineering research division in Ludwigshafen, Germany, are developing a new chemical process to recycle lithium-ion batteries. It enables the lithium contained in the battery to be recovered in high purity and with high yields. The batteries are first disassembled and shredded, which creates a substance known as “black mass.” This contains valuable resources such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. In BASF’s new process, lithium is extracted directly from the black mass as lithium hydroxide, not initially as lithium carbonate like in other processes. After purification to battery quality, with foreign ions removed to trace level, the lithium hydroxide can be used directly to produce cathode active materials. The process avoids waste and has lower CO2 emissions and energy costs than existing methods. The team successfully completed the first pilot tests in 2020 and are currently designing a pilot plant.

Revysol® (Photo)


  • Fungicide protects key crops against fungal diseases
  • Higher yield

Triazole fungicides are crucial to fungal disease control in key crops such as wheat, corn (maize) and rice. Developing a new, sustainable active ingredient in this class of fungicides requires new approaches to research and development and the use of cutting-edge scientific tools to overcome increasing resistances and meet high regulatory requirements. No new triazole fungicide has been registered for more than 10 years. An interdisciplinary team from the research division Bioscience Research and the Agricultural Solutions segment adopted a new research approach to test and optimize the biological efficacy and the toxicological parameters of triazole fungicides at an early stage of development. Thousands of compounds were designed, synthesized and tested using 3D modeling. Today, BASF’s Revysol® fungicide offers farmers around the world an effective, innovative crop protection product that protects their crops against fungal diseases and increases their yield. In 2020, the team won BASF’s internal innovation award for their work.

Haptex® (Photo)


  • Solvent-free polyurethane solution for synthetic leather
  • Simplified production process

Haptex®, a solvent-free polyurethane system for synthetic leather, was developed by a team from the Advanced Materials & Systems Research research division and the Performance Materials division. Until now, polyurethane resin for synthetic leather has mainly been produced using the solvent dimethylformamide. BASF researchers have now succeeded in modifying the polyurethane formulation so that synthetic leather can be produced without organo-tin catalysts or organic solvents. Thanks to its optimized formulation, Haptex® is also low-emission and well compatible with water-based top layers in synthetic leather. Custom Haptex® synthetic leather grades do not yellow, are chemically resistant, very soft and the surface can be structured using embossing techniques. In cooperation with our customers, our experts also simplified the complex production process. Its many customizable properties mean that our customers can use Haptex® for a wide range of synthetic leather applications in industries such as furniture, automotive, footwear, sporting equipment, clothing and accessories.

BASF supports search for active ingredients to combat the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

In 2020, BASF experts supported the search for improved derivatives of active ingredients to combat the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and provided academic working groups with free access to substances from its compound library, comprising several million entries. Our researchers were additionally involved in the global search for a substance that inhibits what is known as the viral main protease, an essential enzyme of the virus. This inhibitor aims to stop the virus from multiplying in the human body. Using an internally developed computer program and the supercomputer Quriosity, our researchers were able to identify and optimize numerous new molecules. With the help of the supercomputer, BASF also tested around 1.2 billion synthetically producible compounds for their potential to inhibit the main protease of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. BASF does not develop or produce its own vaccine. We are involved in numerous development projects to treat or prevent COVID-19 with our pharmaceutical ingredients.

BASF supports search for active ingredients to combat the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (Photo)