More sustainability in the polymer industry – Fraunhofer PAZ inaugurates expansion building
The new expansion building of the synthesis plant of the Fraunhofer Pilot Plant Center for Polymer Synthesis and Processing PAZ in Schkopau was ceremonially inaugurated on September 21, 2023. With an additional area of approximately 550 m2, the building provides space for new equipment and processes. Research and development work focuses on innovative synthetic rubbers and energy-efficient synthesis processes. The new building was financed with around 7 million euros from funds provided by the European Union (ERDF), the Ministry of Science, Energy, Climate Protection and the Environment of the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The Fraunhofer PAZ in Schkopau combines the expertise in polymer synthesis of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP (Potsdam) and in polymer processing of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS (Halle/Saale) as a joint facility. With the possibility of transferring processes to industrial pilot scale, innovative and tailor-made polymer solutions for various industrial sectors are developed here and scientific findings are put into practice. Applications range from (bio)plastics and elastomers to functional polymers for applications in areas such as automotive engineering, electronics, medical technology, packaging and more. These polymer materials play a crucial role in the implementation of global goals such as the energy transition, the promotion of a future-oriented mobility and bioeconomy, and the strengthening of sustainability.
In the Fraunhofer PAZ's synthesis department, experts develop new processes and polymer materials and transfer them from laboratory to pilot plant scale. The new building opens up a multitude of potentials.
Today, it was inaugurated with a ceremony in the presence of Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann, Minister for Science, Energy, Climate Protection and the Environment of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, Christina Kleinert, Head of the Department of Internal Administration and Public Order of the Saalekreis district, and Prof. Dr. Raoul Klingner, Director of Research, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, as well as renowned guests from industry, science and politics.
Minister Willingmann said: "Saxony-Anhalt combines tradition and modernity when it comes to plastics. Polymers have been produced and processed in Schkopau for 85 years; even today, our state is one of the world's leading centers of expertise in this field. A very central component is the Fraunhofer Pilot Plant Center, which conducts research on the plastics of the future with international relevance. The researchers in Schkopau focus primarily on sustainability. The expansion of the Fraunhofer PAZ thus strengthens our research landscape and is also an investment in a more climate-friendly economy."
More sustainable polymer synthesis up to the ton scale
Prof. Alexander Böker, the director of the Fraunhofer IAP, explained: "With state-of-the-art pilot plants, we can synthesize sample quantities of polymers up to the ton range at the Fraunhofer PAZ and thus support our regional, national and international customers in advancing new products and processes. In this way, we build an important bridge between research and industrial application. We place particular emphasis on establishing sustainable processes and materials and making an important contribution to a future-oriented circular economy."
"In addition to using renewable raw material sources, a key concern for us is to increase the resource and energy efficiency of our procedures and production processes. This also includes measures to avoid or at least reduce the use of environmentally harmful solvents. We are significantly expanding these focal points with the expansion of the synthesis pilot plant, thus creating an important building block on the path to greater sustainability in the polymer industry," added Prof. Michael Bartke, who heads the Fraunhofer PAZ.
As part of the expansion of activities, the Fraunhofer IAP has created six new positions in the area of synthesis at the Fraunhofer Pilot Plant Center PAZ. In perspective, the expansion enables the entry into parallel operation of the pilot plant and thus the increase of the research volume.
A tour of the Fraunhofer PAZ pilot plants is possible, among other things, as part of the Fraunhofer Technology Day "Scale up Green Chemistry NOW" on November 29, 2023.