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"F3 Factory": Flexible, Fast and Future Factory – European Chemistry Consortium Begins the Journey into the Future of Production / Bayer Technology Services GmbH coordinates EU-funded project on paradigm shift in production


Chemical Industry: Conserving Resources Through More Efficient Processes

Europe-wide collaboration of leading major enterprises and research institutes / Sustainable chemical production to generate a lasting competitive advantage / Potential savings approaching four billion euros / Key application include solvent-free polymers, innovative surfactants, compounds for the health care industry and materials from renewable resources

Leverkusen – Increasing efficiency and flexibility, reducing raw material costs: the factory of the future is more effective, more flexible and, above all, conserves natural resources significantly better than current standards. Today’s launch of “F3 Factory”, an EU-funded project, marks the beginning of an unprecedented program for the development of more efficient and sustainable processes in the chemical industry. For the first time on such a scale, leading European chemical industry companies are crossing competitive boundaries to collaborate both on technologies for process intensification and on production concepts, forming a consortium with research institutes and universities. 25 partners from all over Europe have joined forces for this purpose. The project is scheduled to run for four years and has a volume of approximately 30 million euros, 18 million euros thereof being provided by the EU through its 7th Framework Program (FP7).

“F3 Factory” stands for: flexible, fast and future factory. The F³ Factory consortium aims to sustainably strengthen the European chemical industry’s global technological leadership via faster and more flexible production methods. The goals are to design and develop the modular continuous plant (the F3 plant), to standardize processes and their interfaces and also to demonstrate the capabilities of the F3 Factory with existing products. The efficiency and scalability of world scale continuous plants are to be combined with the versatility of batch-wise operating plants. For this purpose, holistic strategies for process intensification will be developed, such that raw materials and energies are employed more economically – since the latter represent about 70 to 80 percent of manufacturing costs and therefore usually much more than labour costs. A further focal point of the F3 Factory is the development of concrete products such as solvent-free polymers, custom-tailored surfactants, high value-added building blocks and intermediates for pharmaceuticals and innovative materials based on renewable materials. A supporting demonstration and development center will be constructed in CHEMPARK Leverkusen, Germany. The building work is scheduled to begin in late 2009/early 2010, with completion expected by the beginning of 2011.

New Trendsetter for the Chemical Industry

All partners met for the F3 Factory launch on 8th June at the Bayer Technology Services headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. Bayer’s technology subgroup will coordinate the EU project throughout its four-year period. “Today we are at the beginning of a trendsetting – and perhaps even revolutionary – cooperation within the European chemical industry, since F3 Factory combines the enormous process know-how of industry and research units in a to date unique consortium across competitors. And the project proves once more the innovative force of one key sector for the whole of Europe”, stated Achim Noack, Managing Director of Bayer Technology Services GmbH, at the beginning of the meeting. And it’s not only climate change and the current global economic crisis that necessitate efficiency gains in the feedstock-intensive chemical industry, but also the disproportionately sharp increases in raw material cost of recent years would require such concerted efforts. On the day, the project participants formed smaller working groups to coordinate tasks and to determine responsibilities for the first project phase.

First and foremost, the chemistry consortium has set itself three major targets. It aims to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the F3 Factory concept at the technology center. Furthermore, the project participants want to show that F3 Factory-style processes are considerably more economical, eco-efficient and sustainable than conventional processes in continuously operating world-scale plants or those in small and medium sized batch-plants. Additionally, advances in the joint development of modular plug-and-play technologies are targeted.

Nearly four Billion Euros Saved by “F3 Factory”

“Innovative concepts of process intensification enormously increase energy and resource efficiencies. This leads to a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly manufacture of existing bulk and fine chemicals as well as to entirely new products with elevated added value”, remarked Herbert von Bose, Director of Industrial Technologies, Directorate G of the European Commission Directorate-General for Research, as one justification for the funding decision" According to calculations of the consortium, the European chemical industry could reduce costs by about 3.75 billion euros just by switching existing production facilities over to the F3 Factory concept – while opening up new markets in the meantime.

The F3 Factory consortium consists of: Arkema, AstraZeneca, BASF, Bayer Technology Services, Britest, Buss-SMS-Canzler, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS, Coatex, Technical University of Denmark, Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS, Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine - ENSIC, Evonik Degussa, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Institute of Catalysis & Surface Chemistry PAS, Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Process Design Center, Rhodia, RWTH Aachen University, Technische Universität Dortmund, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Newcastle, University of Paderborn, Procter & Gamble, Ruhr-University Bochum. Its members stem from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the UK .

Bayer Technology Services GmbH offers fully-integrated global solutions along the life cycle of chemical and pharmaceutical plants – from development through engineering and construction to process optimization for existing plants. The Bayer subsidiary employs nearly 2,600 people worldwide at its headquarters in Leverkusen and other German locations, as well as in regional offices in Belgium, India, Mexico, the United States, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the People’s Republic of China. 2008 sales totaled approx. EUR 420 million.
Additional information about Bayer Technology Services is available at

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