BASF is enhancing its regional innovation capabilities with new facilities at the Innovation Campus Shanghai, to further strengthen collaboration with the automotive industry and to offer new process catalysts to the chemical industry. With an investment of approximately €34 million, the new 5,000-square-metre facilities include the Automotive Application Centre and the Process Catalysis Research & Development Centre.
At the recent inauguration, the company also presented a range of locally-developed innovations which support customers in industries like automotive, construction and consumer goods, and which address important market trends to reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency and enhance performance. BASF launched an innovative waterborne coating system on the same occasion.
“China’s most important growth industries can benefit enormously from innovations in chemistry. Thanks to continuous investment in research and development over the past several years, we are able to support our customers in China and the entire Asia Pacific region as they strive to improve consumers’ quality of life, address the challenges of rapid development and meet their sustainability goals,” said Dr. Stephan Kothrade, President Functions Asia Pacific, President and Chairman Greater China, BASF.
“At the Innovation Campus Shanghai, we are continuously enhancing our R&D capabilities in advanced materials, chemical process engineering and catalysts by integrating new technologies and building our teams,” said Dr. Harald Lauke, President, Advanced Materials & Systems Research and Research Representative Asia Pacific, BASF. “We have invested nearly €180 million here since 2012. More importantly, our R&D experts work closely with our business teams and customers, so as to shorten the time-to-market of innovative products.”
Equipped with a state-of-the-art spray booth for electrostatic applications, a physical testing lab, and a 3D robot, the BASF Automotive Application Centre, Asia Pacific is designed to enable customer-oriented R&D activities. The 3D robot can simulate nearly any situation on a paint line, anywhere in the world; enabling the new centre to optimise application processes and products. It can apply the automotive coatings not only on horizontal and vertical surfaces, but also on three-dimensional objects such as car doors and bumpers. The robot allows BASF to develop new products for customers in the automotive industry and provides design solutions for automotive products as well as potential new trends and developments in the automotive coatings industry. The expanded capacities also feature laboratories for sustainable painting applications.
“This is a significant milestone in expanding BASF’s R&D footprint in Asia Pacific. Now we will have the full innovation cycle for coatings in one location – ‘in the region, for the region’. The state-of-the-art Application Centre will help us to serve our automotive customers even better,” said Dirk Bremm, President of BASF’s Coatings division. For the first time, BASF presented a range of innovations developed locally at the Innovation Campus Shanghai, including sustainable paints that support sustainability and enhance quality of life.
ColorEco is a novel waterborne Monocoat and waterborne integrated paint system. The solution was first applied on light commercial vehicles from JAC, a leading commercial vehicle manufacturer based in Anhui Province, China. It helps automotive manufacturers meet strict regulations for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially in the light commercial vehicle and compact multi-purpose vehicle segments. The conventional system requires four coating layers. With the Integrated Process 2 for metallic colours, the first layer primer is integrated into the basecoat with better functionality. With Monocoat, it is even possible to integrate three steps into one – saving time, energy and materials.
The building and facilities were completed after a 15-month construction phase, achieving 600,000 safe working hours without a lost-time injury. On top of safety measures, the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system has been integrated with an off-gas treatment facility, i.e. with an activated carbon unit, installed on the rooftop of the building to remove VOCs such as hydrocarbons, solvents, and organic-based odours from the spraying process.