Braskem will invest R$50 million to expand its innovation structure in Brazil. The initiative involves the construction of a new 2,800-square-meter building at Braskem's Technology and Innovation Center located in the Triunfo Petrochemical Complex in the state of Rio Grande do Sul to receive new equipment and laboratories for developing and testing technologies for the production of thermoplastic resins around the world. The new equipment and techniques to be implemented by the expansion will complement the site's existing competencies, which already has six pilot plants.
The expanded space will receive advanced polymer characterization laboratories, which include chromatography, polymer cracking and microscopy analyses, as well as catalysis and petrochemical process technology laboratories. The quality control laboratories of the second-generation plants will be centralized in the same building. The investment was announced this month, and conclusion of construction is slated for end-2019.
The Technology and Innovation Center in Triunfo is the largest of Braskem's four technology centers and one of Latin America's leading polymer research centers. Of the 300 people who work at Braskem's Innovation & Technology team around the world, 170 work in Triunfo. According to Braskem's Global Innovation Director, Gilfranque Leite, the expansion takes advantage of the expertise developed in the region over the last 16 years, since the ITC was inaugurated:
"Triunfo's ITC was the first to develop technologies such as green polyethylene, which continue to be improved and are leading to the development of new materials, such as Green EVA, which was launched this year," said Leite. In June, a new concept developed at the ITC, namely recycled plastic resin (3R) with enhanced quality and strength, was introduced at an event in Vancouver. Another highlight in 2018 was the launch of the Braskem Evance line of innovative, high-performance resins featuring advanced customization for applications in the footwear, automotive and construction industries. "Another noteworthy development is the high quality technical education in the region, where we have excellent people being trained and qualified to work in Braskem's laboratories coming from institutions such as SENAI, UFRGS and PUCRS," said Leite.
Since 2017, the ITC has been working jointly with research and development units in Brazil, United States, Mexico and Germany. Solutions developed at the center are used worldwide, which include high-performance resins to reduce packaging weight, resins for films and packaging developed for international markets, materials resistant to high temperatures for the automotive industry and more efficient additives. The Triunfo ITC also supports research development in other regions by conducting advanced characterization tests in pilot plants that are available only at that center. It also works on projects such as improving technologies for the use of recycled plastics and new resins for 3D printers and smart packaging. In addition to R&D activities, the site serves more than 400 clients that want to test and improve their products.
Braskem's innovation structure is composed of two Innovation & Technology Centers located in Triunfo and Pittsburgh, a Center for Research on Technologies and Renewables located in Campinas, São Paulo, and a Technical Center in Wesseling, Germany, for a total of 23 laboratories and seven pilot plants. Altogether, these centers have 276 projects in their innovation and technology pipeline and over 900 patents. The company invests annually around R$300 million in the area.
The new building has the challenge of encouraging innovation even before its construction. The team responsible for the project identified more than 30 applications for plastics in the construction project, with solutions that take into account the cost, durability, resistance and versatility of the materials. The goal is for the building to function as a kind of showroom, with plastic structures exposed and identified, showcasing the products of Braskem and its partners from theory to practice.
There are myriad application possibilities, from the flooring to roofing tiles, from hydraulic systems to wall and floor coverings, thermal and acoustic insulation and design elements, which will showcase some advantages of plastics, including its light-weight, resistance to corrosion and ease of cleaning, among others with growing applications in the construction industry.
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