Waterborne raw materials for coatings and adhesives take center stage on the stand presented by Bayer MaterialScience AG and its Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties (CAS) Business Unit at the European Coatings Show (ECS) in Nuremberg, Germany, from March 31 to April 2, 2009 . "Water is green - Driving green technologies" is the company's motto on its stand no. 135 in hall 7A. "With a total of 25 new products, we are once again demonstrating our innovative strength in the field of raw materials for polyurethane coatings," said Dr. Harald Mertes, manager of Bayer MaterialScience's 340 square meter exhibition stand.
Dr. Joachim Wolff, a member of Bayer MaterialScience's Executive Committee and head of the CAS Business Unit, was in a confident mood at a news conference despite the global economic crisis that is hitting nearly all areas of industry: "You have to remember that there will also be a time after the crisis when demand will rise again. We have creative employees, market-oriented products and, most importantly, a clear concept for the future." It is important, he said, to identify future market requirements and customer needs at an early stage, and to address them correctly.
"Climate and environmental protection are key challenges that we will tackle resolutely in different ways with coordinated products and solutions. Waterborne dispersions will play a key role here. With our products and technologies, we can access "green" value chains and thus create added value for our customers," said Wolff. He expects growth rates for polyurethane systems in particular to be above the market average in future, not only with low-solvent, conventional systems but also especially with waterborne raw materials.
Significant capital expenditures and R&D spending
"It is especially important that we do not neglect capital expenditures or R&D spending at this time if we want to continue being successful in the future," said Wolff. Between 2009 and 2012, he added, capital expenditures of at least EUR 200 million are planned, with a further EUR 450 million earmarked for research and development, making a total investment of at least EUR 650 million.
At the end of March, for example, it was decided to invest around EUR 20 million in building a polyisocyanate production line in Ankleshwar in the growth market of India. This should be in a position to start serving the Indian market and the neighboring region from 2011 onwards.
With the opening of a state-of-the-art production plant for waterborne polyurethane dispersions in Shanghai, another key project was completed at the end of last year, providing Bayer MaterialScience with world-scale capacities for these important coating and adhesive materials in Asia, too.
In Germany, there are a number of highly innovative projects currently ongoing or nearing conclusion. At the beginning of 2009, production of Baycusan® was started up in Dormagen. Baycusan® is a range of special waterborne polyurethane dispersions for use in cosmetics and medical technology. Also in Dormagen, a new production plant is under construction for large-format polycarbonate films, and in Leverkusen, a 200 t/a pilot plant is being built for the production of Baytubes® carbon nanotubes. Both projects are due for completion before the end of this year.
In research and development, the CAS Business Unit has opted for a diversified approach, but will concentrate on projects that target profitable growth and the creation of added value. "The Functional Films Business Unit established in 2008 especially has exceptionally dynamic growth potential, which is both innovative and market-ready," said Wolff. This growth concerns both modern film technologies and holography and polymer electronics. Nanoparticles play an important role here, for example with electrically conductive printing inks (BayInk®) and quantum dots (BayDot®), which could be used in future in silicon-free organic solar cells. Other areas of focus for the CAS Business Unit in terms of R&D are market-related customer projects, the retention and expansion of technology leadership, and the optimization of production efficiency.
Efficient production of high-quality "green" products
Bayer MaterialScience and, in particular, the CAS Business Unit, also play an important part in the Bayer Group's extensive climate program, not only with their own production processes, which are being optimized in terms of their climate friendliness, but also with products and technologies specifically designed to enhance climate protection. Waterborne binder dispersions as well as hydrophilic and low-viscosity crosslinking agents are making a significant contribution here.
Yet the expertise of CAS is not restricted to traditional coating raw materials. "Baytubes®, our carbon nanotubes, enable the production of larger and more efficient rotors for wind turbines. High-performance adhesives and coating systems simplify the production of such rotors and extend their service life," explained Wolff. The business unit is thus making an indirect yet important contribution to the efficient use of renewable energy.
Other examples mentioned by Wolff included polycarbonate film and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) for the production of flexible solar cells. "Functional films are an important area of innovation. I am therefore very happy that, with immediate effect, our company's entire expertise in the films segment - including our TPU activities - has been embraced in the Functional Films Business Unit," he said. The restructuring will enhance efficiency not only with regard to the present business, but also in terms of its further technological, application-related development.
Poted April 1st, 2009