In 2014, globally Bayer MaterialScience spent €210 million on research and development. This was about 5.9 percent of the Bayer Group’s total investment in research and development. In this way the subgroup aims to further expand its leading position in the market and in process technology as a global supplier of high-quality customized materials and system solutions. In the Polyurethanes; Polycarbonates; and Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties business units, the latest technologies and production processes are employed to create new products and new applications in cooperation with customers and other external partners.
Our activities in the Polyurethanes (PUR) business unit include work on products and material solutions to drive forward the use of environmentally friendly wind energy. The most recent developments include polyurethane infusion resins used in the interior of wind turbine rotor blades to bond fiber layers to a stable core. The resin is better distributed and cures more quickly than conventional infusion material, thus significantly reducing production times and saving costs. The material can also be used without difficulty for very long rotor blades capable of generating larger quantities of electricity.
In the area of process development, we are progressing with the use of carbon dioxide as a new source of carbon for polyurethanes in order to reduce dependence on petrochemical raw materials. In 2014, for example, we began transitioning an existing research project (“Dream Production”) to commercial use. The goal is to begin marketing an innovative form of the polyol component of polyurethane with a CO2 content of around 20 percent in 2016. At the laboratory level, we also succeeded in producing another polyol type through direct and indirect integration of CO2 using 40 percent alternative raw materials – a further contribution to resource efficiency.
Our activities in the Polycarbonates (PCS) business unit are mainly geared to the development of products for the automotive and electrical/electronics industries as well as the IT sector. The focus here is on reducing weight, improving energy efficiency and safety, and enabling greater design freedom.
In the automotive industry, our focus is partly on exterior applications. Not only add-on components such as spoilers, but also glazing and entire panorama roofs and their frames are increasingly being manufactured from polycarbonate or polycarbonate blends that weigh up to 50 percent less than equivalent glass or steel components. This supports the industry’s efforts to produce cars that are as light as possible and therefore more fuel-efficient. We are working to further improve the properties of these products and the respective manufacturing processes.
Light-emitting diodes also contribute to sustainability in vehicles and in other applications, as they require significantly less energy and last longer than traditional light sources. We have developed special materials for channeling, scattering and reflecting LED light that feature high transparency, design freedom and heat resistance. Special materials can also be used in the production of thermally conductive parts, helping to make LED light sources last longer.
We are also working on the evolution of polycarbonate-based composite materials that address the needs of the automotive, consumer electronics and other industries. In this area we are developing especially lightweight, continuous-fiber-reinforced materials that can be used in the future in applications such as chassis and structural components, or as housing materials for ultra-mobile laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.
Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties
In the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties (CAS) business unit, we are driving the development of raw materials for high-performance polyurethane coatings, colorants, adhesives and sealants. Among our fields of research and development are coatings for textiles and synthetic leather. For these coatings we have developed a new generation of purely waterborne polyurethane dispersions. This technology, which was launched in mid-2014 under the name Insqin™, enables all types of coated textiles and synthetic leather to be manufactured without using solvents.
Our development activities as a whole are focused on eco-friendly products that spare resources and can be more efficiently applied. The use of renewable raw materials is also playing an increasingly important role.
Further information on research at Bayer HealthCare can be found in our research scientific magazine: