Combining state-of-the-art facilities with foresighted thinking
Borealis is active in innovation along the entire value chain from hydrocarbons, through catalyst and polymerization processes to product development in polyolefins and from ammonia through ammonium nitrate, nitric acid, urea to fertilizer compositions. Its innovation community is composed of international professionals spread across several locations.
Borealis Innovation capabilities are concentrated in three main European Innovation Centres:
complemented by a global Competence Centre for Fertilizers development based in Grand-Quevilly (France) and pilot plant facilities in Schwechat (Austria). In addition, Borouge, Borealis' joint venture with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, has its own Innovation Centre which is strategically located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The focus at each Innovation Centre is different, allowing for dedicated efforts in terms of R&D, technical service, product management, marketing, and business support. The Innovation Centres serve also as focal points for open innovation activities. Borealis considers this joint effort to be the key element in delivering innovative solutions for its customers and the society fast and effective.
Value Creation through Innovation is at the core of Borealis' strategy. It takes place in close collaboration with value chain partners who transform Borealis materials into final products and requires that Borealis understands all the needs, opportunities and issues that can occur in such a value chain. It involves far more than just thinking about the chemistry – it is about understanding what its customers and end-users actually do with the products.
For polyolefins, Borealis focuses on understanding the structure-property relationship from the catalyst through to the processing of the final product. At the advanced Borealis laboratory and polymer processing facilities, product development starts at small scale polymerisation followed by pilot and production scale. The lab scale polymerisation (approx. 1-1.5 kg/h) is used for conceptual product development and product screening before semi commercial quantities are produced in the pilot plants (2.5 t/day) for industrial process validation and final product testing. A full technical release is required before moving these products to commercial production polypropylene or polyethylene plants (40 t/h).
The key to developing value-adding solutions is to tailor the property profile of the material to the end-use application. In order to achieve this, a multimodal polymer design potentially in combination with post reactor modification is used. Alongside mechanical properties and processability, increasing importance is being given to special functionalities such as surface quality, paintability, electrical properties, heat resistance, and low shrinkage, amongst others. Therefore Borealis has invested in polymer processing facilities with state-of-the-art equipment in which it can replicate almost the entire polymer processing that its customers can do. This combined with advanced material and application testing as well as analytical and physical characterization enables Borealis to predict the product performance in the respective application early on in the development cycle.
Automatic flaming and painting station
In addition to product development, Borealis R&D activities are also focused on plant performances and operational excellence. It is of key importance to understand production processes in detail in order to constantly improve safety, increase output and accomplish sustainable cost leadership. Therefore, Borealis has developed analytical methods, simulation tools and lab scale pilot plants to mimic the industrial hydrocarbon processes in small scale. Using these tools in combination with expertise in process technology and process chemistry accompanied by a strong collaboration with the operational units open new avenues to exceed today's operational limits.
By investing in research facilities completed with state-of-the-art machinery, Borealis is thereby also investing in its customers' success, the environment and the society. Bringing new concepts to the market quickly is an essential element of successful innovation. Borealis is committed to improving internal efficiency by utilising high throughput experimentation in combination with advanced modelling and simulation knowledge. By generating more precise material data, Borealis is able to achieve a faster and more competitive approach to material development, while customers can improve their efficiency through more in-depth information about the materials they use.
Borealis takes a systematic approach to ensure full utilisation of the company's knowledge base. Making the best use of individual skills, competencies, thoughts and ideas is a key for successful Value Creation through Innovation strategy. Knowledge management at Borealis fosters innovation, knowledge transfer, improved business processes and enhanced learning across the entire organisation.
Next to state of the art knowledge managements tools Borealis is proud to have an internal training academy helping its employees and co-operation partners to further develop their skills and competences. The Borealis Business Academy (BBA) offers over 90 trainings addressing technical and generic skills given by reputed internal or external experts in the field.
To share some of its inventions publically, Borealis presents its findings at international conferences and in well-known and respected trade publications.