INEOS Styrolution, NMB GmbH and University of Bayreuth celebrate seventh anniversary of a unique R&D collaboration addressing new sustainability concepts

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt am Main and Bayreuth, November 17, 2020

INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, and Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH (NMB), in cooperation with the University of Bayreuth, celebrate their 7th anniversary of a truly unique and successful R&D collaboration. This partnership has become an integral part of INEOS Styrolution’s R&D portfolio. Over time, the focus of the collaboration has developed a strong emphasis on new sustainability concepts for styrenics. Highlights include:

  • Depolymersation of polystyrene to convert post-consumer styrenics waste to monomer feedstock
  • Life cycle analyses of Polystyrene recycling processes
  • Foams with controlled cell morphology and superior insulation properties
  • Use of recycled ABS by co-injection moulding with virgin type ABS

  • This unique collaboration made Bayreuth a strong hub in INEOS Styrolution’s R&D portfolio. Going well beyond sponsoring an individual graduate-level research project or contract research, it offers INEOS Styrolution access to a dedicated research team, including a managing scientist and highly qualified research personnel. The managing scientist’s role is to constantly evaluate new concepts to advance styrenics. He is the point of contact for INEOS Styrolution for finding solutions for scientific questions and manages the cooperation with different departments at the University of Bayreuth. The very close cooperation between NMB and the University of Bayreuth and especially the departments of Macromolecular Chemistry I, headed by Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Schmidt, and Polymer Engineering, headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Altstädt, provides INEOS Styrolution access to the expertise of world-renowned experts with profound expertise across many areas of basic and applied polymer science and technology.

    The northern part of Bavaria is known throughout Europe as a hotspot for polymer innovation. It is the home of many small and medium size companies specialising in polymer production and compounding. This aspect was taken into consideration by INEOS Styrolution when deciding for Bayreuth to become an integral part of its R&D portfolio, supporting them to bring new solutions to the market.

    Transformation of post-consumer styrenics waste into a valuable feedstock

    INEOS Styrolution is dedicated to establish a circular economy for styrenic materials to avoid landfills and incineration and to recognise post-consumer waste as a valuable feedstock for recycled materials. The depolymerisation of polystyrene post-consumer waste was the focus of the research project ResolVe funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

    The successfully completed project was led by INEOS Styrolution and was carried out in collaboration with two institutes (I.A.R. and IKV) of the University of Aachen, INEOS O&P Europe and NMB. The results reveal that polystyrene post-consumer waste is indeed a valuable feedstock for styrene monomer and shows potential for a real circular economy to reduce post-consumer waste going into landfill or incineration. The robust process also tolerates a variety of contaminations making it applicable for waste from different sources.[1] Polystyrene based on this method exhibits identical physical properties as conventionally produced polystyrene. Its production requires less energy and produces less CO2.

    Investigation of foams with controlled cell morphology and improved properties

    Foams are widely applied for lightweight construction, innovative packaging and thermal insulation. Thus, they are responsible for saving energy in many applications. Furthermore, by using foamed materials, less polymer is necessary to fill a defined part volume, compared to compact materials. Foamed materials thus contribute to saving resources.

    In current research approaches, new concepts are investigated to improve the foam morphology and cell size in foams based on different styrenic materials. The target is the development of solutions with a unique property profile to bring lightweight solutions to new applications or improve the sustainability of existing ones.

    Use of recycled ABS by co-injection moulding with virgin type ABS

    INEOS Styrolution demonstrated the industrial feasibility of mechanical recycling of ABS with the introduction of their new Styrolution ECO family. This material development is supported by the “INEOS Styrolution – Bayreuth”-partnership. Currently, NMB investigates a co-injection process using post-consumer ABS as a core material, which is injected into a virgin ABS grade. The virgin material fully encapsulates the recycled core, thus the surface properties and appearance of parts produced via this route are identical to established ABS parts.

    A unique and successful R&D model for the plastics industry celebrates its 7th anniversary

    Dr. Norbert Niessner, Director global R&D and intellectual property at INEOS Styrolution, comments on the collaboration: “Within 7 years of collaboration, the Bayreuth R&D site became an integral part of INEOS Styrolution´s Global R&D network. State-of-the-art equipment, great collaboration spirit and access to all novel trends of today´s polymer science make NMB and University of Bayreuth our preferred partner for achieving world-class scientific results for us as leader in an important global industry.”

    Prof. Dr.-Ing. Volker Altstädt, CEO, Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH adds: “In the last 7 years this unique collaboration gave NMB the great chance to work on topics which are highly demanded by the society because the sustainability goals which are addressed in the collaboration are very much focusing on the use of our global resources in a more efficient manner.”

    Dr.-Ing. Thomas Neumeyer, head of Division Polymers at Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH adds: “The intensity of the collaboration goes far beyond the teamwork in conventional R&D-projects. The persons involved on both sides have merged to a highly efficient team. Thus, even under the current challenges caused by the CORONA crisis, all topics of the cooperation could be further advanced with a high degree of focus on our targets.”

    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 the unique access to application-oriented research, which is attractive to students in chemistry and engineering. Over the past seven years we established with this unique collaboration an environment of trust, freedom, space and flexibility allowing an avenue to transfer applied research to innovation.”

    Dr. Tristan Kolb, managing scientist of the collaboration between INEOS Styrolution and Neue Materialien Bayreuth, adds: “It is a pleasure to manage the collaboration at the location Bayreuth. Especially the open and fruitful discussions of the highly motivated and skilled teams on all three sides are a key to successfully carry out the variety of interesting research projects.”

    About Neue Materialien Bayreuth

    Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH is an independent non-academic research institute in the field of lightweight construction for polymers, metals and composites. Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH provides application-oriented solutions by optimising available materials and production processes with the aim of transforming new processes and materials into strong products. Highly modern plant technology enables R & D and prototype production on an industrial scale. Their business division Future Solutions allows direct access to materials-related departments at the University of Bayreuth engaged in materials-related research.

    Contact Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH

    Dipl.-Ing. Claudia Benedickt
    Media and Public Relations
    Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH
    Gottlieb-Keim-Straße 60
    95448 Bayreuth

    Phone:      +49 921 507 36 132


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    INEOS Styrolution is the leading global styrenics supplier, with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 90 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering innovative and sustainable best-in-class solutions, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets, and at the same time, help make the circular economy for styrenics a reality. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including automotive, electronics, household, construction, healthcare, packaging and toys/sports/leisure. In 2019, sales were at 5 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,600 people and operates 20 production sites in ten countries.

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