BASF is also presenting a new approach for using CO2 as a chemical feedstock: the production of sodium acrylate from ethylene and CO2. Sodium acrylate is an important starting material for superabsorbents, which are widely used in diapers and other hygiene products. A few years ago, researchers at the BASF-supported Catalysis Research Laboratory (CaRLa) at the University of Heidelberg were able for the first time to successfully close the catalyst cycle for this reaction. In the meantime, BASF experts have made important progress in scaling up this process to industrial scale and have demonstrated that it can be successfully implemented at laboratory scale in a mini plant. Compared to the current propylene-based production method for superabsorbents, in the new process CO2 would replace around 30% of the fossil fuels, provided that a larger-scale process also proves to be stable and energetically favorable.
Commitment to cutting-edge research in the global Know-How Verbund
The four projects presented are representative of the unique portfolio of topics addressed by BASF’s research activities, which also include work on groundbreaking innovative leaps. BASF aims to maintain its research and development expenditures at the high level of previous years. These expenditures amounted to €1,888 million in 2017, and the figure for 2018 will be published at the Annual Press Conference at the end of February. BASF’s research pipeline includes around 3,000 projects, which are being worked on by more than 11,000 employees in research and development worldwide. An important component of the Know-How Verbund is the network of R&D collaborations with excellent universities, research institutes and companies.