INEOS Styrolution, Neue Materialien Bayreuth, University of Bayreuth – five years of successful R&D collaboration
- Truly unique R&D collaboration addresses the entire value chain from basic research across pilot production to commercialisation of styrenic specialty solutions
- Customer-centric innovation at the center of INEOS Styrolution’s market approach
INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, celebrates the 5th anniversary of a unique and successful R&D collaboration model with Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH (NMB), in cooperation with the University of Bayreuth. This partnership is focused on exploring and bringing to market new styrenics based solutions for INEOS Styrolution’s focus industries like automotive, electronics, household, construction, and healthcare. Strategic projects include development of sustainability concepts and recycling solutions for styrenic materials, new lightweight composites, foam injection molding with aesthetic surface and improved anti-scratch performance for styrenic polymers.
Going well beyond sponsoring a graduate-level research project, the partnership offers INEOS Styrolution access to a dedicated research team, including a managing scientist and highly qualified research personnel through NMB. The managing scientist’s role is a constant evaluation of new technologies for use in the field of styrenics. INEOS Styrolution benefits from this permanent seed creation process by steady growth of their innovation pipeline in both size and value. Further development examples include research in the area of recycling polystyrene post-consumer waste, aesthetic lightweight applications made by foam injection molding techniques, and improved scratch resistance for styrenic polymers. Through its close cooperation with the Department of Macromolecular Chemistry and Polymer Engineering at the University of Bayreuth, INEOS Styrolution has access to the expertise of world-renowned experts like Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Altstädt, with profound expertise across many areas of basic and applied polymer science and technology. In addition, the location Bayreuth in Northern Bavaria, Germany, is known throughout Europe as a hotspot for polymer innovation and is home to a host of companies specializing in polymer production and compounding. This aspect is crucial for INEOS Styrolution´s approach to bring new R&D results “to the road”.
Research to recycle polystyrene post-consumer waste
INEOS Styrolution is dedicated to finding solutions that avoid landfills and incineration as end-of-life scenarios for styrenic materials after the use phase. Consequently, the company is very active in a number of projects that explore alternatives.
NMB contributes to the ResolVe project, which is led by INEOS Styrolution and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The project addresses chemical recycling of polystyrene post-consumer waste. This concept aims at achieving a true circular economy, where polystyrene waste is recycled into virgin, high-quality styrenic polymers.
StyLight® - Innovative new generation of thermoplastic composites based on styrenic copolymers for lightweight designs
One of the many achievements of the “INEOS Styrolution – Bayreuth”-partnership is the analysis and optimisation of StyLight®, the first thermoplastic composite based on styrenic polymers.
Bayreuth contributed significantly to exploring various technologies for the industrialisation of StyLight®. NMB focused on determining optimum processing conditions combining thermoforming and back injection moulding. Their results guide customers to optimise surface quality, energy consumption and cycle times.
StyLight is today validated according to the automotive interior specification of leading car manufacturers for new application designs. The material also made inroads to the electronics and sports industries.
A unique and successful R&D model for the plastics industry celebrates its 5th anniversary
Dr. Norbert Niessner, Director global R&D and intellectual property at INEOS Styrolution, comments on the collaboration: “At INEOS Styrolution, R&D is an integral part of the business. We support both top-line growth, i.e. new products and applications, as well as efficiency improvement projects. The smooth collaboration with Bayreuth enables us to focus our own activities on downstream customer innovations across our focus industries including automotive, electronics, household, construction, and healthcare.”
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Altstädt, CEO, Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH adds: “I am very pleased with the collaboration. In fact, I am thrilled to see that one of our master students has recently been recognised as the first INEOS Styrolution award winner for excellent achievements in R&D. This award is yet another confirmation for our institution delivering first class research. Looking forward, I see interesting and challenging new projects that we are eager to take on.”
Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt, Department of Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Bayreuth comments on the benefits of the cooperation and summarises: “The collaboration with INEOS Styrolution provides application-focused research fields, being attractive for our students and researchers. We established an environment of trust, freedom, space and flexibility that allow us to progress at a high speed from the initial idea to innovation. As a strong R&D site in polymer and material science, the University of Bayreuth contributes both, broad and in-depth experience. We are eager to work side-by-side with INEOS Styrolution to jointly create the styrenic innovations of tomorrow.”