Innovation Capabilities

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:

  • Innovation Headquarters Linz (Austria)
  • Innovation Centre Porvoo (Finland)
  • Innovation Centre Stenungsund (Sweden)

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.

Research Facilities

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.

Accelerating innovation

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.

Knowledge Management

The knowledge to innovate

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.

Innovation Centres

Innovation Headquarters Austria

Borealis International Innovation Headquarters is located in Linz, Austria, close to the Danube River and approximately 200 kilometres west of Vienna. It is within easy reach of the industrial regions in southern Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Italy Historically, industry in this area was centred on mining and steel, but now includes chemicals, pharmaceuticals amongst other industries.

Borealis' mission of Value Creation through Innovation was the key idea during the entire construction process of the Innovation Headquarters. The new office building meets the latest architectural standards: open-space offices and well-appointed communication centres support the exchange amongst employees, as well as with management and customers.

The Innovation Headquarters also accommodates state-of-the-art research facilities consisting of a pilot plant for hydrocarbon production technologies, a high-tech polymerisation laboratory and industrial size polymer compounding and conversion equipment for injection moulding, pipe extrusion, and film and fibre production.

The core innovative competencies at the Innovation Headquarters are small scale polymerisation and product development of polypropylene (PP) and low pressure polyethylene (PE) products for infrastructure, advanced packaging and automotive applications. Borealis' main research activities concerning hydrocarbons and melamine also take place in Linz.

Along with the investment in the new Innovation Headquarters, Borealis, together with its shareholder OMV, supports the new Plastics Engineering programme at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz. The programme's aim is to meet the demand of the Upper Austrian plastics industry for young researchers and engineers in the years to come. Recently this collaboration was extended to catalyst research as well.

To further strengthen its research expertise, Borealis inaugurated a new catalyst plant in Linz in June 2013. The company invested EUR 100 million in the construction of this facility which produces catalysts utilising the proprietary Borealis Sirius Catalyst Technology. This underlines Borealis' position along the entire plastics value chain: from research and development into production of its own catalysts, to application-oriented development of innovative end products in close co-operation with its customers.

Innovation Centre Finland

At the Porvoo Innovation Centre, located in the biggest Nordic petrochemicals industrial park in Porvoo, Finland, the core innovative competencies are catalyst and process research and development. Porvoo is home to the Borstar® technology development, encompassing both the polyolefin process and catalysts. Fundamental catalyst development is conducted in the well-equipped Aurora laboratory whilst scale up of catalysts to commercial trials is performed in the catalyst research pilot plant. The new Borealis Sirius Catalyst platform based on emulsion technology was developed to meet the growing requirements of polyolefin products. Process, catalyst and new Borstar product designs are tested and scaled-up in the Borstar pilot plant which consists of two lines, one for PE and one for PP.

The Projects and Technology Support function located at the Innovation Centre supports the Borstar and catalyst process investment projects. Customer technical support is focused on extrusion coating and packaging applications.

Innovation Centre Sweden

The Swedish Innovation Centre is located in Stenungsund, Sweden, a west coast location close to the hub of the Swedish plastics industry which hosts several leading world players in high tech industries. The Stenungsund site encompasses a cracker and high- and low-pressure PE plants. The site has several decades of experience producing ultra-high purity polymers for high voltage cable applications as well as low pressure polymers for pipe applications. Recently, the construction of a large and completely new wire and cable plant using cross linking polymer technology was completed. Borealis' leading product brands include Borlink™, Visico™, Casico™, BorPEX™ and Borcoat™.

 

The core innovative competency in Stenungsund is high pressure polyethylene (HPPE) development, particularly for energy and infrastructure applications. This includes HPPE process and polymerisation technologies and production of super clean compounds from monomer to final packaging, the cornerstone of the Borlink™ technology. Key functions of the application segment Energy and Infrastructure (E&I) are located at the Innovation Centre. This ensures a strong link to innovation throughout the entire E&I product range, including materials for cutting edge technologies such as extra high voltage (EHV) and high voltage direct current (HVDC) power cables.

A state-of-the-art laboratory supports the research and development activities and is specially equipped to fulfil the needs for energy application development.

Innovation Centre United Arab Emirates

Innovation Centre United Arab Emirates (Borouge)

In addition to its three European Innovation Centres, Borealis also innovates on a global level. 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 Borouge Innovation Centre is close to customers in the UAE and the Middle East region and also to the 4.5 million tonnes per year Borstar PP and PE production plants in Ruwais. Equipped with state-of-the-art tools for plastic processing and analysing, the core competencies are currently the development of pipe, film and moulding applications. Wire and cable applications are being introduced in conjunction with the Borouge 3 project. 

Application Centre China (Borouge)

An Application Centre is located at Borouge's compounding plant in Shanghai, China. The main focus of the centre is on developing compounded automotive applications. Support is also provided to customers in Northeast Asia.