Bayer Material Science continues to prioritize innovation, growth and efficiency
Increased commitment to climate protection
Düsseldorf – From October 24 to 31, 2007, Bayer Material Science will be presenting a large number of innovative developments at the world’s biggest plastics exhibition, K 2007, in Düsseldorf. Covering over 1,000 square meters in Hall 6, the stand will feature numerous exhibits from the automotive engineering, electrical/electronics, construction, wood and furniture, sports and leisure and medical engineering industries, to name but a few. “We will be showcasing not only marketable products and applications but also examples of the many different innovations we have in the pipeline, true to our motto: ‘Vision Works – Today and Tomorrow’, said Chairman of the Board Patrick Thomas at an international press conference attended by some 100 journalists in Düsseldorf. “As before, this exhibition will be a demonstration of the wide-ranging achievements of our business units: Polyurethanes, Polycarbonates, Thermoplastic Polyurethanes, and Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants – units that all have leading market positions in their respective disciplines.”
Focus on forward integration and improved customer service
“Our corporate strategy will continue to be based on three pillars: innovation, growth and efficiency. Our main focus at K 2007 will of course be on innovation,” said Thomas. However, he defines this term far more widely than is customary in the description of exhibits: “Innovation must be an integrated component of all corporate activities and must go clearly beyond the development of new products and applications.” It includes, for instance, the latest structural activities which are summed up as forward integration at Bayer Material Science. “By setting up largely independent; highly specialized business entities, we can ensure a powerful customer focus while at the same time maintaining a high level of flexibility in our business decisions,” says Thomas. One current example is LYTTRON Technology GmbH, a start-up company established by Bayer Material Science in February 2006. Not long ago LYTTRON started to produce electroluminescent three-dimensionally formable sheets. Another example of a customer-focused business model is the worldwide network of polyurethane systems houses under the brand name BaySystems®, which is currently being expanded by Bayer Material Science. This is also the background to the planned acquisition of the Ure-Tech Group, the leading East Asian supplier of thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs).
Innovative developments from the Concept Car to a mega data carrier
Ian Paterson, the Board member of Bayer Material Science with responsibility for marketing and innovation, presented a wide-ranging program of products and applications at the press conference, a program that will also be relevant at the company’s trade fair presentation for K 2007. “Modern roof module concepts based on polycarbonate and polyurethane products from our company make an important contribution to climate protection. The roof module for the new Smart fortwo, for instance, with its surface of 1.2 square meters, is so far the biggest component of its kind that has been developed for a series production vehicle using polycarbonates. Compared with a similar construction made from glass, it saves about 40 percent in weight and therefore quite a lot of fuel,” Paterson explained. Another development for roof modules is based on thermoplastic sheets backed by the glass-fiber reinforced polyurethane foam system Baydur® STR. This technology also allows the integration of further functions, including boxes for additional storage space, such as in the panoramic roof of the Opel Zafira and aerial systems such as the roof module of the new R-class.
The futuristic concept cars eXasis, zaZen and Senso were developed by the Swiss automotive pioneer Frank M. Rinderknecht in close collaboration with car experts at Bayer Material Science. These creative designs are full of products from Leverkusen: lightweight body parts that make full use of the wide-ranging design freedom provided by the transparent polycarbonate Makrolon®, comfortable padding for head restraints and arm rests made from the polyurethane gel Technogel®, cable covers from the flexible, abrasion-proof and medium-resistant thermoplastic polyurethane Desmopan® and soft-feel coatings for the interior, based on aqueous coating raw materials in the Bayhydrol® and Bayhydur® product ranges.
Increased commitment to climate protection
“While being very much committed to the further improvement of customer relations, the expansion of our market position and increasing growth, environmental care is nevertheless a major priority for us. This applies particularly to climate protection,” said Ian Paterson. “Numerous products from Bayer Material Science make a significant contribution to energy savings and offer impressive potential for a lasting reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The latest examples are weight-reduced vehicles such as the eXasis concept car and thermal insulation for buildings and refrigerating appliances using rigid polyurethane foam.” The Bayer Group has recently created an extensive project: the Bayer Climate Challenge Program is designed to show how the Group can provide even more powerful solutions aimed at climate protection and suitable for dealing with the impact of climate change.
This is also the background to gas phase phosgenation, an innovative technology developed by Bayer for the production of toluene diisocyanate (TDI), which is used for the production of flexible polyurethane foam. The new technology saves about 80 percent in solvents during the last stage of the TDI synthesis reaction and then 40-60 percent in energy in the subsequent distillation process. Compared with a conventional system of the same capacity, it saves approx. 20 percent in investment costs. After its very positive experience with a pilot system at the Dormagen site, Bayer Material Science has decided to install this new world-scale system at the integrated Shanghai site which has an annual capacity of 300,000 metric tonnes.
Tradition in innovation
Innovation has a long tradition at Bayer. Audio CDs first appeared on the market 25 years ago, and the history of optical data storage media is far from over. With its high-tech plastic Makrolon®, Bayer has been a major player from the very beginning and is also actively involved in the most recent developments. Since then HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs have become marketable, yet the demand for storage is still on the rise. The buzzword for the next generation may well be near field recording which will apparently boost storage capacities to 100 gigabytes and more per data medium. And totally new horizons will be opened up by holographic data storage whereby entire data packages are stored within the volume of a data medium. “This means that storage can be taken all the way into the terabyte range, and we will see a clear acceleration of read/write routines,” said Ian Paterson. Working in a joint venture with the US start-up company In-Phase Technologies, Bayer Material Science has developed a special material for such data media.
Tiny particles with enormous impact
A number of unique qualities can be realized with carbon nanotubes under the Baytubes® brand name, not only in sports apparatus, but also in car manufacturing and in wind power plants. The nano-scale parts display an excellent level of mechanical stability and good thermal and electrical conductivity. A new synthesis process has been developed by Bayer, allowing high-purity industry-scale production of these nanotubes. “In addition to a pilot plant that is already up and running, we are planning to construct a large-scale technical production facility with a capacity of 3,000 metric tonnes per year,” explained Ian Paterson.
Recently, the TPU Demospan® was used for the first time in sail battens at the famous sporting event, the 32nd America’s Cup. The special feature of this technology is that sailors can accurately control the shape of a foresail via the air pressure in the inflatable battens.
The planning and realization of research and development projects, conducted by teams from the business units at Bayer Material Science and also by the New Business Department, are supported by a growing global network of Innovation Centers, Competence Centers and Technology Centers. The Centers have excellent standards of expertise, customer focus and synergy effects and are in a position to offer customers the latest know-how through fast and flexible dialog. New Innovation Centers are currently being planned for Russia, Korea, India and Taiwan.
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