21 Amazing Answers to the Next Big Thing: Energy Efficiency


21 Amazing Answers to the Next Big Thing: Energy Efficiency
Amazing Answers to the Next
Big Thing: Energy Efficiency
Cover illustration: PICFOUR
Dr. Klaus Engel: Sustainable solutions
for global challenges 2
Dr. Arend Oetker on the next big wave
1. Motoring without Exhaust
Super technology for batteries
15. Sturdy Sandwiches
A rigid foam solves the toughest problems
8. Smart Heads Hydrogen peroxide—a product with potential
16. Focus on a Climate Killer
Bacteria that metabolize greenhouse gases
9. Glass to Keep Plants Warm Greenhouses use less energy
24 17. Brainstorming Factory
The Eco2 S2B Center40
10. Saving Energy with Skin Cream
Biotechnology’s advantages are pretty good 26
18. Slim Super Solar Films
The search for the solar technology
of the future42
2. A House as Easy on the Pocket as on the
How energy needs are bottoming out 10
11. Power from the Depths
Geothermal energy—a special energy source
3. Small Cells Save Energy
Special foam for cool refrigerators
12. When Less Is More
High-efficiency power plants
19. On One’s Own Behalf
How Evonik is lowering energy costs44
4. Gentle Giants
Oil additives that deliver more
13. Saving Fuel Is Easy
Lightweight cars
20. Do It Yourself
Evonik employees help cut
energy consumption46
5. Solar Silicon and Savings
Using less energy to get raw materials
14. Diesel from a Nut
New ways to the fuel of the future
6. How White Works
Using biotechnology to ease
dependence on oil
7. Environmental Protection Expertise
Tires for lower fuel consumption and less CO2 20
21. Wood Chips for Power and Heat
Waste wood as a fuel for power plants48
Evonik Worldwide
Company, Contacts, Credits, Brands50
Dr. Arend Oetker,
President of the Donors’
Association for the
Promotion of Sciences
and Humanities in
Germany, discussing
long-term developments
and opportunities
in his introduction
The New Global Wave
Photography: Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft
To be prepared for the future, it often helps to
look at the past. Communication media are
­constantly getting better, and in recent times, they
have changed our world. Developments such as
cell phones, the Internet, and high-performance ­
fiber-optic technology have truly revolutionized
globalization and the economy over the last
few years, in what might be thought of as another
industrial revolution.
In addition, we have seen the continual development of existing ideas, of technology that is already
available and products that are already being delivered. Although something may be good today, we’re
always asking ourselves whether it can be improved.
This is a never-ending economic process that we can
influence and control to a considerable extent:
a real industrial evolution.
At present, however, neither the opportunities
arising from revolutionary economic developments nor the advantages of steady evolutionary
­economic change are making the headlines.
The focus is instead on the alarming problems in
the global financial markets and their impact
on the economy as a whole—for income, employ
ment, investment, social systems, and indeed entire
But those who can look beyond the dramatic
problems currently facing us have observed something else: The global economic crisis comes exactly
at a time when information technology—a major
­driving force in today’s world—may be perceptibly
losing momentum and vitality. Computers entered
the scene—and are now standard in billions of homes
in industrialized countries. Cell phones made their
­debut—and are now standard accessories for a very
large number of people. A crucial question here is
whether the billion-euro IT market is still capable of
generating massive spurts of growth. Or is the next
megatrend—in an entirely different area—already at
our doorstep?
Nearly a hundred years ago, the Russian eco­
nomist Nikolai Kondratiev proposed a theory of long
waves to explain the long-term ebb and flow of
­economic development. According to this theory,
variations in the economy occur not in short phases
but in cycles extending over decades. The Austrian
economist Joseph Schumpeter developed Kondratiev’s theory further and identified the key technologies that drive these cycles.
The thinking behind this is as follows. A scarcity in a
production factor, such as transportation, results in an
economic downturn; only the introduction of a new
technology can overcome the deficiency and lead to a
sustained upswing.
The first Kondratiev cycle was driven by industrialization and the invention of the steam engine, and the
second by expansion of infrastructure, of the railroad in
particular. The third had its origin in electricity and chemistry, and the fourth was dominated by the burgeoning
automotive industry. A study of the past reveals that
the respective technology leaders did indeed enjoy a real
economic boom. As the most productive country of its
time, England profited more than any other nation from
the invention of the steam engine; Germany’s industrial production performance catapulted the country to
the top of the world rankings, thanks to its leading
­position in the fields of electricity and chemistry. The
current and fifth cycle, dominated by information
technology, could now be gradually drawing to a close.
The million-dollar question, with implications
­extending far beyond the current economic problems,
is this: What will drive the sixth Kondratiev cycle?
Those who can answer this question have the opportunity to position themselves today in a steadily
­ rowing market of the future—and enjoy the benefits
possibly for decades together.
From the present perspective, the most likely candidate for the sixth Kondratiev may well be energy
technologies. The indicators are numerous: The overexploitation of natural resources has led to a scarcity
of raw materials; climate change continues at an alarming rate; and the ongoing discussion on the right energy mix shows that energy provision in the future will
pose enormous challenges. These problems can be
overcome only by systematically saving energy, using
more renewable raw materials, and taking advantage
of new technologies for improved energy efficiency.
But new technologies are not developed in a
­matter of days. Indeed, research and development take
years. So it’s all the more important to get an early
start. Anyone who wants to break into the new market
should already have worked out the right science.
Far-sighted companies shouldn’t settle for merely
standing on the sidelines. Those surfers who want
to catch the next big wave must prepare themselves in
advance—energetically and efficiently.
1. Motoring without Exhaust
Photography: William Boyce/Corbis
Picture a typical rush-hour scene in a large city at
a major junction, where eight roads meet. Cars are
lined up bumper to bumper at the traffic lights.
But the air is not poisoned with foul-smelling exhaust, and earsplitting engine noise is entirely
absent. The future belongs to clean and quiet road
traffic, because vehicles have a novel, silent elec­tric drive of unprecedented range. High-efficiency
lithium-ion battery technology from Evonik should
help realize this vision.
The goal is an ambitious one: To replace fossil fuels
for automotive engines by alternative energy sources
over the long term. Vehicles with electric drives
are still ­relatively rare, but the situation should soon
improve: The political will for change in this area is
already clearly evident in many countries. Evonik has
made considerable progress on the long road to
the automotive drive of the future, and has entered
into an alliance with Daimler.
This represents an innovation in mass production.
In conjunction with Daimler, Evonik is gearing up
for industrial production of high-tech batteries for
passenger cars and utility vehicles that will do away
with traditional combustion engines. To this end,
automotive experts of both companies are developing
a lithium-ion based battery technology. Recharge­able batteries of this type have so far been widely
used only in smaller appliances like laptops and cell
phones. For more powerful applications, such as
automotive drives, the technology has until now suffered from a serious drawback: The batteries were
not sufficiently safe. In the event of failure they were
liable to overheat and therefore could not be used
for automotive drives. Evonik has successfully
overcome this obstacle by developing new battery
components for cars.
At the core of the technology is a novel ultrathin membrane, which ensures that the electrical
com­ponents in the battery are safely and reliably
­separated. The membrane consists of a material also
used to make coffee cups and flower vases:
ceramic. Evonik has developed a separator for
­lithium-ion batteries that possesses a special
ceramic coating. This component clears the way
for the electric vehicle of the future—because
it is this separator, along with other components,
that allows the batteries to achieve hitherto unknown power. And yet each high-tech battery cell
is no larger than a wall tile. Large-scale fleet tests
of electric cars are already under way in European
­cities. The vehicles offer clear advantages for
people and the environment: noise pollution is
­negligible, and CO2 emissions from vehicular traffic
amount to exactly zero point zero.
The Facts
The Question: How do we eliminate CO2
emission from vehicular traffic?
The Idea: Over the long term, electric engines
must replace conventional combustion engines,
which use fossil fuels.
Evonik’s Response: Using highly innovative
components, Evonik is making lithium-ion
battery cells for automotive use that are ready to
go into production.
The Benefits: Sustainable relief of the
environmental burden through exhaust-free and
quieter cars.
photography: frank preuss/evonik industries
2. A House
as Easy on
the Pocket
as on the
For tenants and house owners alike, increasing
energy prices and horrendous heating costs
are a permanent irritant. But a fortunate few
can face the situation with equanimity. Evonik’s
Three-Liter House in Düsseldorf shows why.
Hans and Marianne Hopp have been living in the
building since the early 1970s. Since that time,
heating costs have almost doubled. But that was before the refurbishment. The balance sheet now
looks much healthier: Tenants consume less than
a quarter of the heating energy that was used
before the re­furbishment, thanks to sophisticated
building technology and a thermally insulating
­building shell. The thickness of the insulating shell
on the walls here is 200 millimeters (mm), as opposed to the usual 100 to 120 mm. The windows are
triple glazed. A gas-fired mini cogeneration
plant (CHP) in the basement provides heat, power,
and hot water. Photovoltaic systems on the roof
also produce electricity that is fed into the grid, providing an additional pay-back. Heat produced in
the low-energy house is repeatedly reused. Fresh
air flows into the apartment through decentralized
ventilation systems, rather than through an open
window. Spent air is expelled from the building,
warming the fresh air to a comfortable temperature
by means of a heat exchanger.
The post-refurbishment balance sheet for
energy savings speaks for itself. The annual
primary energy requirement had previously been
287 kilowatt-hours per square meter (kWh/m2).
This figure comprises the energy needed to
provide the apartment with heating and hot water,
and also includes the energy required for transporting and handling the energy source. The current
figure is just 36 kWh. The name “Three-Liter
House” was inspired by the fuel-conser­ving threeliter car.
And the environment benefits, too. Before the
building was improved, about 82 kilograms (kg)
of CO2 per m2 of living space were gene­rated annually, as opposed to the current -10.5 kg of CO2 per
m2. This surprising but healthy “negative balance” is
the result of consuming smaller amounts of fossil
­fuels than before. Moreover, power generation
using photovoltaics and block CHP plants makes generation of energy, and thus of CO2, unnecessary in
other places. So that the negative result is a big plus
for the environment.
The Facts
The Question: How can energy costs for tenants
and home-owners be reduced?
The Idea: Various building technologies and
modes of operation are optimally combined to
­reduce energy requirements.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik refurbished a
1960s building to such an extent that
energy costs were drastically reduced—
and the house now actually suppresses
more climate-damaging CO2 emissions than
it produces itself.
The Benefits: The primary energy requirement
fell from 287 to 36 kWh per m2.
3. Small Cells Save Energy
photography: evonik industries
To minimize electricity costs for keeping beer cold
and food fresh, Evonik’s researchers are working
on the right additives for improved insulating foams
in refrigerators.
The ideal insulating foam for refrigerators is initially
in the liquid state, filling every curve and corner
around the egg tray and bottle rack. It then solidifies,
with no holes or inhomogeneities, but only the finest
pores, like a child’s delicate skin. Polyurethane rigid
foam is the most efficient insulating material
for refrigerators that is currently known. It is normally
produced from two chemical raw materials. To opti­
mize its properties, substances known as additives
must be mixed in. Among the most important
additives are foam stabilizers, such as are developed
in Evonik’s laboratories.
The stabilizers have three key tasks. They make it
possible to mix the two major components of the
foam. And they generate a mass of bubbles that will
give rise, after the foam has hardened, to a very
fine cell structure; these small cells insulate particu­
larly efficiently. Additives also stabilize the foam
while it is still liquid and expanding. In this way it can
flow into every corner of the refrigerator walls with­
out developing holes or cracks.
A team of researchers in Essen is working with
Evonik customers to increase the insulating capacity
of the foam by 10 percent. The customers in this
case are normally system vendors that supply refriger­
ator manufacturers with the appropriate mixture
of raw materials providing the base for industrial pro­
duction of insulation material.
Evonik has so far developed about 50 different ­
stabilizers for this application. The figure also in­
dicates that it is not all about a single simple standard,
but that the knowledge of specialists is required
for delivering custom solutions. Stabilizers are one
decisive key for rigid foams, which contribute toward
improving energy efficiency. Well-insulated refrig­
erators make an important contribution to environ­
mental protection, as is well illustrated by a calculation
from the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environ­
ment, and Energy: If all refrigerators older than ten
years were replaced by ordinary appliances of Class
A energy efficiency, power consumption in German
households could be reduced by 2.5 to 4 percent.
And the beer would still be well chilled…
The Facts
The Question: How can the energy consumption
of refrigerators be reduced?
The Idea: Refrigerators are being insulated more
effectively with novel rigid foams.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik is developing
foam stabilizers that produce particularly fine
cell foam.
The Benefits: Small and fine cells provide espe­
cially effective insulation, which helps save energy.
4. Gentle Giants
Photography: Karsten Bootmann/Evonik Industries
The scene: A farm in the US state of Ohio. A flat
­expanse of land, a large yellow excavator, and a hill
of dirt. The excavator’s shovel takes a bite out of
the earth, then rises. The operator turns his machine
180 degrees, drives 30 meters onward, and opens
the shovel to discharge its contents. The entire process is repeated, six hours a day, for nine days
at a stretch. What’s the point of it all? To answer
that question you have to dig a little deeper.
Behind the earth-moving activity is a cleverly devised
test for hydraulic oils. Hydraulic systems serve to
transfer power from one part of a machine to another.
This flexible and reliable technology is used for
most of the moving parts in vehicles, where hydraulic
oils play an important role.
But their functioning is complicated by external
­influences because, no matter what the outside
­temperature, the hydraulic oil must keep the same
­viscosity at all times. High-grade oils with special
­additives are therefore needed to get the best out of a
machine; such oils retain their beneficial properties
regardless of the temperature.
And that’s why the Ohio excavator is being driven
around. On certain days, its hydraulic systems operate with standard oil, and on others with an oil that
meets Evonik’s specific performance requirements for
what is known as MEHF (maximum efficiency hydraulic fluid). The goal is to obtain the best results and
the maximum efficiency. Hydraulic oil achieves top
performance through the use of additives, which improve the viscosity index and allow decisive improvements in the efficiency of machines.
It has been proven, in both the laboratory and the
mud and slush of the field, that hydraulic fluids containing Evonik additives significantly improve the
­performance of hydraulic systems. In the Ohio field
trials, the parameters measured were the amount
of diesel consumed by the excavator for its work and
the number of times it could make the trip with
a full shovel from one earth mound to the next. The
following results were obtained when the different
oils were compared: With the MEHF oil, the excavator consumed about 10 percent less diesel, which
­reduces operating costs; at the same time it could do
more work, increasing the productivity of the hydraulic system. The bottom line: an increase in energy
­efficiency by up to 25 percent, a result that amply justified the entire effort.
The Facts
The Question: How can the efficiency of
­ ydraulic equipment be improved?
The Idea: By developing additives that
­significantly improve the performance of
­hydraulic systems
Evonik’s Response: Evonik has introduced
a new industry quality standard for hydraulic fluids: ­maximum efficiency hydraulic fluid (MEHF)
The Benefits: Additives from Evonik ensure
that the viscosity of the hydraulic fluids decreases
less markedly as the temperature rises.
This improves the performance of the fluid,
and thus the efficiency of hydraulic power
5. Solar Silicon and Savings
Photography: Frank Preuss/Evonik Industries
Evonik will effect massive energy savings by ­­expanding its chlorosilane capacities for solar ­
silicon production for the photovoltaics ­industry
—and the company produces silicon, which is in
great ­demand as a raw material, by a new process that uses much less energy than conventional
The photovoltaics industry continues to show healthy
growth, fueled by demand for this form of energy
generation and government funding ­programs available in a growing number of countries. But to sustain
this growth the solar industry needs silicon—more
­accurately, polycrystalline ­silicon. This substance is in
great demand because more than 80 percent of all
­solar modules are based on thin wafers of solar silicon.
In collaboration with SolarWorld AG and Joint
­Solar Silicon (JSSi), the joint venture established by
the two partners, Evonik started up a novel production plant with an annual capacity of 850 metric tons
at the Rheinfelden site in the Upper Rhine region in
2008. In this way Evonik is contributing ­toward
further increasing the share of alternative ­energies in
power generation—as well as securing a reliable
supply of raw material for its partner ­SolarWorld.
Ultrapure polycrystalline silicon is then transpor­ted
from Rheinfelden to ­Freiberg, in Saxony, where
SolarWorld employees melt it down and allow it to
resolidify into ingots. These are then processed
to rods and cut into wafers from which SolarWorld
­fabricates solar cells and modules.
But it’s the method, not just quantity, that is of
interest. Evonik’s researchers have discovered a new
route to solar silicon that consumes significantly
less energy than conventional processes. Raw silicon,
­which is actually abundantly available, must first
be converted to ultrapure form before it can be further processed by the solar industry. In the JSSi
­process, gaseous monosilane is decomposed at high
temperatures into its elements, silicon and hydro­gen. This requires up to 90 percent less energy than
the hitherto commonly used Siemens process. Un­
doubtedly, the conversion of trichlorosilane into
monosilane also requires energy, but the overall
­energy saving is still an impressive 60 to 80 percent:
a perfect example of energy efficiency that pays off.
The Facts
The Question: How can solar silicon be
produced by an energy-saving method?
The Idea: Raw silicon is converted to trichloro­
silane and—this is where the novelty lies—
then to monosilane, which is thermally decomposed. The result: silicon of 99.9999 percent
Evonik’s Response: Together with its
partner ­SolarWorld, Evonik produces solar
silicon by this new process in the Joint
Solar Silicon joint venture.
The Benefits: At this stage, the process
requires up to 90 percent less energy.
6. How White
Photography: Frank Preuss/Evonik Industries
As a starting material for production of plastics
and basic chemicals, petroleum is right at the
top of the list. But oil is becoming scarce and an
­alternative is urgently needed. Researchers
are therefore working on a means of replacing
­petroleum while simultaneously protecting
the environment—which holds out such intriguing
possibilities as obtaining material for sports shoes
from agricultural crops.
Alchemists dreamed for centuries of transmuting
lead into gold, a wish that was never fulfilled.
Today, their place has been taken by highly trained
chemists and biologists, who have equally ambi­tious goals. But there’s a vital difference—because
present-day researchers have already found
their philosopher’s stone, in the form of white
But much remains to be done before, for exam­ple, sugar can be used as a starting material to ­produce
products such as skin creams, shampoos, or even
sports shoes. Evonik’s Biotechnology Science-to-
Business Center is working along these lines, and
does not stop at pure research. It aims rather at marketable products that are simultaneously profitable
and energy efficient—and therefore eco-friendly.
The way it works is this. Microorganisms such as
bacteria, yeasts, and other fungi are fed with re­new­
able ­raw materials like sugar cane, from which they
will then produce the desired raw materials: monomers for plastics production or oils for the cosmetics
industry. The microorganisms have previ­ously been
modified, by either breeding or genetic engineering,
so as to do precisely what is expected of them.
The object of the exercise is to produce a substitute for petroleum, the “black gold” that is currently
the most important raw material in the chemical
­industry. Biotechnological processes have a major
­advantage over petroleum in that they generally
­consume significantly less energy and therefore also
have a better CO2 balance. Moreover, stocks of
­renewable raw materials are unlimited.
And there are no limits either to the application
­areas of white biotechnology. It is used in the phar­
maceutical industry for drug production, in the
­cosmetics industry for use in creams and shampoos,
and in animal nutrition for production of essential
amino acids. Almost the only thing it can’t do is turn
lead into gold.
The Facts
The Question: Can petroleum be substituted
by bacteria and fungi?
The Idea: Production of chemicals and plastics
by biological means.
Evonik’s Response: The Biotechnology ­
Science-to-Business Center produces
plastics and chemicals from renewable raw
materials with the help of microorganisms.
The Benefits: White biotechnology offers an
­alternative to the use of petroleum in the
chemical industry. CO2 emissions from biotech­
nological processes are lower, as is energy
­consumption, and stocks of renewable raw
materials are unlimited.
Dr. Klaus Engel,
Chairman of the
Executive Board
of Evonik
Industries AG
Sustainable Solutions for
Global Challenges
Photography: Evonik Industries
Operating all over the world, Evonik is the
­creative ­industrial group from Germany and has
an idea of the future: to provide custom-tailored
solutions in ­chemicals, energy, and the housing
markets. This makes us part of the industry,
and we’re very proud of that. We offer specific
answers to global challenges.
Can we be gentler to our environment, reverse
­climate change, and still enjoy sustained economic
success? Evonik Industries AG responds to such
urgent questions posed by society. We’ve developed
intelligent ­system solutions for this purpose. Energy
efficiency, the world’s next megatrend, will
revolutionize both our society and our economy.
Evonik’s researchers and developers are proud to be
among the pioneers of this revolution.
The twenty-one articles below impressively
­discuss our results up to now. Revolutions thrive on
broad-based contributions. We can rightfully say
that we’re at the cutting edge of new trend-setting
technologies for the future.
Many people worry about climate change, rising ­
energy costs, and increasing shortages caused
by dwindling resources. Evonik knows that time is
of the essence. The people of the 21st century
have to develop concepts to secure the well-being
of their own future and that of future generations.
They can rely on the innovative power of our
­industry. Without the chemical industry, life-saving ­
airbags in cars would still be a vision, along with
­exhaust catalysts or fuel-efficient automotive ­components. Without efficient power plants, we ­
wouldn’t have any reliable source for light, power,
and heat and be able to operate modern hospitals.
Media such as the Internet, which allow for global
knowledge and equal opportunity, would remain
a fantasy. Modern, energy-efficient apartments in
which people can live well fulfill another basic need.
The special challenges of the current financial ­
and economic crisis show that those who ask the
right questions and have the right tools for the future ­
won’t only overcome short-term difficulties, but
­actually have a good chance to emerge from the crisis
with renewed strength. Knowing this, we at Evonik
are optimistic.
7. Environmental Protection
Photography: Stefan Wildhirt/Evonik Industries
Tires are high-tech products. Formulating the
right rubber blend is what counts, and the
tires must satisfy all kinds of demands, in heat,
rain, or snow. More power then to the person
who can come up with the formulation that
optimally balances the three main reinforcing
­components in rubber compounds: rubber silicas,
­organosilanes, and carbon blacks. Within the
bounds of the “magic triangle of tire performance,”
these three components determine the desired
properties—a kind of give-and-take between wet
grip, abrasion resistance (mileage), and rolling
The silica-silane technology, termed “green tire”
technology by the experts, has been a trendsetter
for years. With the aid of certain silicon compounds
known as organosilanes, it chemically “couples”
­rubber and silica. In Europe alone, it is used in the tire
treads of almost all new passenger cars. This leads
to fuel savings of about 5 percent compared to
­conventional tires, with no loss of durability and improved grip, particularly under wet conditions.
A recent development in green-tire technology—
a new organosilane—reduces rolling resistance by
more than an additional 10 percent, and by almost
40 percent in relation to tires manufactured through
some process other than the silica-silane technology
developed ­primarily by Evonik, which is now the market leader. This translates into fuel savings of up to 8
percent. In terms of CO2 emissions, this means that,
for a luxury class passenger car, emissions will be
r­ educed from the current 180 grams per kilometer
(g/km) down to 165 g/km. ­With an average mileage
of 30,000 km per year, the cost of a new set of tires
will have been recouped within just one year.
Even at the production stage, the new tires
score by significantly reducing environmental load
during the production process. Evonik’s Si 363
­organosilane, recently launched on the market,
reduces VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions
during the manufacturing process by more than
80 percent, so costly waste gas treatment is no longer necessary.
The Facts
The Question: How can you lower fuel
c­ onsumption and CO2 emissions using innovative
tire technologies?
The Idea: A tire with lower rolling resistance from
eco-friendly production
Evonik’s Response: New development of
tire materials such as the organosilane Si 363.
The three most important reinforcing
components—rubber silica, organosilanes, and
carbon blacks—are accurately determined
through Evonik’s own research. Evonik also
has the advantage of being the only supplier
in the world that also produces all the three
­components itself.
The Benefits: Lower fuel consumption,
lower CO2 emissions on the road, and lower
VOC emissions in tire production.
8. Smart Heads
Photography: Evonik Industries
For decades, hydrogen peroxide has been a
source of charming deceptions: Brunettes use it to
turn their hair blond. Even Marilyn Monroe is
said to have put her trust in this chemical substance.
However, bleaching human hair is only one appli­
cation for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2): The bulk of
global output is supplied to the paper and pulp
­industry. Evonik is the world’s second-largest
­pro­­ducer of this bleaching agent, with production
capacity of around 600,000 metric tons a year.
Which suggests it might be worth considering what
else it could be used for.
That triggered a smart idea from Evonik: Why not
use this environment-friendly bleaching and oxidizing agent to produce other chemicals such as propylene oxide (PO)? That had never been done
before on an industrial scale. Together with the
­German engineering company Uhde, Evonik developed the HPPO process, a method of generating
­propylene oxide from propylene and H2O2 with the
aid of a catalyst. This technology has several ad­
vantages over conventional processes: It is environment-friendly, energy-efficient, economical, and
does not generate co-products.
Propylene oxide is a starting product for polyurethane foams, which are used, for example, as energysaving insulation for refrigerators and buildings. In
­autos, they are not just used in seats; other applications
include lighter-weight instrument panels and bumpers that help cut fuel consumption. The market for
PO and its derivatives is growing at a rate of 5 percent
or more a year, partly because rising environmental
awareness in Asia is boosting demand for insulating
However, Evonik does not intend to produce
propylene oxide or polyurethane foams itself.
Others can do that better. With its partner Uhde, it
has licensed HPPO technology to other chemical
companies. In 2008 the Korean company SKC started
up the world’s first HPPO facility, with a capacity
of 100,000 metric tons (t) per year. Evonik supplies
around 70,000 t per year of hydrogen peroxide
to this plant. Business that benefits Evonik and the
The Facts
The Question: How can Evonik help
consumers save energy and earn money while
protecting the environment?
The Idea: A new technology for economical,
­environment-friendly production of a starting
product for insulating foam based on H2O2,
which is one of Evonik’s main products.
Evonik’s Response: Technology developed
by Evonik and its cooperation partner Uhde
is licensed to customers in the chemical industry,
who source H2O2 from Evonik as the key
starting product. Evonik also supplies the catalyst.
The Benefits: Evonik gains access to new
­markets for H2O2, which means more business, ­
while consumers get insulating foam
­manufactured using an eco-efficient process.
9. Glass to
Keep Plants
Photography: Evonik Industries
For flowers and vegetables to grow and thrive
in a greenhouse, a great deal of heating energy is
required—which isn’t really surprising because
in most cases the walls and roof are made completely of glass, through which much heat is lost.
For this reason, modern greenhouses are often
made of PLEXIGLAS* from Evonik. This reduces
heating costs considerably—and the plants are
equally happy with this alternative.
In a mass of orchids, ten thousand spots of color form
a gigantic, wonderfully fragrant mosaic in the luminous winter sunshine. Outside, the cold is crisp, with
people’s breath condensing to a white mist. The
flowers, however, are flourishing because only the
light reaches them, the icy cold staying outside.
In the imposingly large greenhouse in De Lier
in the Netherlands, it’s always the right season to
grow flowers because disturbing weather conditions
are simply excluded. Be it cold, precipitation, or
­excessively strong sunlight, PLEXIGLAS products
keep out anything that hinders the growth of
the plants. This largest PLEXIGLAS greenhouse in
the world used about 500 metric tons (t) of the
versatile material, corresponding to an area of about
100,000 square meters.
The requirements can be formidable: for example, individual PLEXIGLAS sheets for gigantic
­greenhouses in Finland are up to twelve meters long.
Although PLEXIGLAS greenhouses are visually
indistinguishable from the conventional variety,
they offer a number of advantages. The sheets from
Evonik have good insulating properties. Insulating
air cushions in the sheets allow substantial savings:
Energy costs are up to 50 percent lower than
for glass greenhouses. Or, to put it another way,
CO2 emissions per hectare of land are reduced by
about 600 t annually.
To allow plants to grow under conditions as
­natural as possible, PLEXIGLAS ALLTOP sheets are
also designed to be particularly transparent to
­ultraviolet light. It isn’t only the Dutch who rely on
PLEXIGLAS ­greenhouses; Scandinavians and North
Americans are now discovering this energy saving
option for themselves. And growing colorful flowers
even in winter without seeing red over energy bills.
The Facts
The Question: How can energy consumption
by greenhouses be reduced?
The Idea: By substituting an alternative
material for glass.
Evonik’s Response: PLEXIGLAS ALLTOP ­
double-skin acrylic sheets. These have
­outstanding insulating properties and allow
plant growth under conditions that are as
natural as possible.
The Benefits: Flowers can be grown all year
round in PLEXIGLAS greenhouses, with lower
energy costs and reduced CO2 emissions.
*E vonik manufactures and markets it‘s acrylic sheet products under the
ACRYLITE ® trade name throughout the Americas.
10. Saving Energy with
Skin Cream
Photography: Image Source/Corbis
As long ago as the pre-Christian era, the Egyptian
queen Cleopatra was not averse to using cosmetic
aids to beguile Julius Caesar with her legendary
beauty. A well-groomed appearance is still much
sought after. Evonik knows how this desire can
be fulfilled and energy conserved at the same time.
With an area of up to two square meters and a weight
of about ten kilograms, the skin is the largest human
organ. It has an extremely hard job to do: It must
brave heat and cold, and withstand unharmed the effects of UV radiation and insufficient humidity in poor
air ­conditioning, without ever losing the soft peachesand-cream quality that is the ideal of feminine beauty.
This is why many women, and an increasing number
of men, put high priority on skin care.
What is the most comfortable feel of a cosmetic
preparation on the skin? Should it be relaxing, soft,
silky, and light—or rich and heavy? The secret is in the
mix. A key factor in the skin feel of a cream is the oil
phase, which increasingly often consists of cosmetic
esters. These are important precursors for cosmetics
formulations because they allow production of
creams and lotions with the desired optimal skin feel,
depending on preference and application.
Evonik Industries is the only company in the world
to offer biotechnologically produced cosmetic esters.
This synthetic route saves more than 60 percent of the
energy required in the conventional chemical process,
which functions only at very high temperatures and
therefore needs a very large amount of energy to heat
up the reaction vessel. This makes the process expensive as well as climate unfriendly.
This is where Evonik’s biotechnological alternative comes into play. The cosmetics industry processes
biotechnologically produced esters into creams and
lotions for dry skin, sunscreens, and even lipsticks,
among other products, thus satisfying the increasing
demand of consumers for natural products. Although
still a niche area, the market for natural cosmetics in
Europe alone is already showing double-digit growth.
The biotechnological variants also reduce formation of environmentally damaging pollutants by up
to 88 percent—a matter of great satisfaction, and not
only for researchers.
The Facts
The Question: Can energy be saved with skin
The Idea: Production of cosmetics precursors
­using bacteria or enzymes. Because these work at
low temperatures and yield very pure products,
they are true energy conservation experts.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik is the only
company worldwide to produce cosmetic esters
by a biotechnological route.
The Benefits: The biotechnological
production process effects energy savings
of more than 60 percent and reduces
formation of environmentally damaging pollutants by up to 88 percent.
11. Power from
the Depths
Photography: Gettyimages/Nordic Photos
Oil and gas are limited resources, while wind energy and solar power are not always available. Geothermal energy is different. It is virtually inexhaustible and constantly available. Evonik already utilizes
geothermal energy. And it is working on a research
project with companies like EdF and EnBW to turn
geothermal energy into electric power via a massive
steam boiler 5,000 meters (m) below ground.
The world’s largest underfloor heating system is the
planet we live on! Only the thin crust that span’s
the Earth’s surface like apple peel is cool. An enormous source of heat slumbers beneath the surface:
99 percent of the planet has a temperature of
over 1,000 degrees Celsius. That harbors massive
­potential. And it is available 24 hours a day—unlike
wind power and solar energy. A survey by the
­German parliamentary office for technology assessment (TAB) estimates that this environment-friendly
source of energy could meet about half of Germany’s
gross power requirements.
Evonik took the first steps towards unlocking the
power in the depths of the Earth more than 20 years
ago and is now an expert in planning, building and
­operating geothermal power plants. It is also involved
in projects in southern Germany that use geothermal
energy to heat buildings. Hot water is pumped from
2,000 m below the Earth’s surface and used as a
­reliable source of heating for homes, public buildings,
hospitals and industry. Customers benefit because
prices are less volatile than oil and gas. Besides, they
don’t need chimneys, oil tanks or connections to the
gas mains. What’s more, geothermal energy is environment-friendly: It generates virtually no CO2.
The next key milestone is to use it to generate
electric power. Evonik is working with partners on a
major research project in Soultz-sous-Forêts in
eastern France. High pressure is used to widen existing fractures in the underground granite rock and
join them together in a network of fractures more than
5,000 m below ground. Water is pumped into this
geological “boiler” to create steam, which is used to
drive an overground turbine. Pilot-scale operation of
this power plant has already started.
If the process is scaled up successfully, it could
provide a large-scale decentralized energy supply.
Once this massive underfloor heating system gets
­going, cold feet will be a thing of the past.
The Facts
The Question: Can electricity be generated from
the hot water under the Earth?
The Idea: Unlocking the inexhaustible supply of
energy beneath the Earth’s surface.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik already uses
geothermal energy as a source of heat and is the
German market leader with total capacity of
more than 100 megawatts. Evonik is currently
working with partners on a research project
to turn this source of heat into electric power.
The Benefits: A reliable supply of clean,
­environment-friendly energy.
12. When Less Is More
photography: ralf mels/Evonik Industries
Supplying energy can be a very simple matter—at
least in the human body, where a drink or a bar
of chocolate rapidly replenishes spent energy. In
the case of heat and power the situation is some­
what more complex. Sophisticated energy techno­
logy is called for, which should preferably be
eco-friendly as well as efficient—like Evonik’s
power plants of the future.
percent, is setting international standards. No com­
parable coal-fired power plant in Europe has so
far achieved higher efficiency. The average efficien­cy is about 30 percent worldwide and 38 percent
in Germany. A higher efficiency means that the
plant needs less coal to generate the same amount
of power. This not only conserves coal, a valuable
resource, but also cuts emissions, particularly CO2.
This technology from Evonik could contribute
Today’s world would be inconceivable without
even further to environmental protection if adopted
energy. Houses would stay cold and rooms dark. Com­ worldwide—in China, for example, where more
puters would cease to function, production plants
than 550 new coal-fired power plants are to be built
would grind to a halt—and the world would be a very by the year 2015. If efficiency were to be in­different place. All of which makes it abundantly
creased worldwide from 30 to 45 percent, global
clear why energy supply is one of the foremost con­
CO2 emissions would be slashed by nearly two billion
cerns of the future.
metric tons annually. Which alone justifies the use
An optimal method of energy generation would
of the technology.
be efficient and eco-friendly as well as economical,
safe, and reliable. These requirements would be satis­
The Facts
fied by, for example, generating energy from re­
The Question: The changeover to energy
newable sources such as sunlight, wind, or plants. But
generation from renewable sources will take
it may take a few decades before energy generated
­several decades. How can the transition be
reliably from renewable sources becomes widely
made as efficiently as possible and with maximum
available, and in the interim fossil fuels such as oil, gas,
environmental protection?
and coal will remain indispensable. So it’s all the
more important to use these as efficiently as possible
and with maximum protection of the environment.
Evonik is showing how this can be done. A new
750 megawatt hard-coal fired cogeneration plant unit
is currently under construction in Duisburg-Walsum,
which could supply an estimated more than 1.3 mil­
lion single-family households with power.
Even more impressive, however, is the fact that
the new power plant, with an efficiency exceeding 45
The Idea: By designing and building power
plants of efficiencies significantly higher than
those attained in conventional plants.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik builds power plants
that have efficiencies as high as 45 percent and are
low emitting.
The Benefits: Lower fuel consumption and
fewer emissions, particularly of CO2.
13. Saving Fuel
Is Easy
photography: karsten bootmann/Evonik Industries
Cars that need less fuel, and so emit less CO2 ,
are a product not only of sophisticated mechanical
engineering. Evonik’s chemists too are paving
the way for the eco-friendly and energy-saving car
of the future—with very light components.
Force is needed to move a mass, and it takes a lot
of fuel to get a heavy car going. Ultralight structural
foams, innovative polymer material concepts, and
adhesives from Evonik can make vehicles significantly
lighter. Every kilogram saved in this way allows
further weight savings, for example, in the drive
train, which can then be made smaller.
Lightweight construction materials include the
plastic VESTAMID HTplus, which can replace
classic metal parts in cars. A charge air duct, for example, can be made from VESTAMID HTplus:
Hot compressor air flows through this duct in the engine, which must therefore be able to withstand
high temperatures. A plastic duct weighs only half as
much as its aluminum counterpart. The VESTAKEEP ­
high-performance polymer also withstands temperatures up to 260 degrees Celsius, a property that is
useful for parts in gear units and engines, where the
polymer is again used as an alternative to metal.
Even the body can be streamlined by the use of
sandwich elements of high-performance
ROHA­CELL foam and carbon fiber fabric. Their use
in body parts such as the roof, hatchback, engine
hood, and doors results in a weight reduction of 50
to 60 percent compared with steel parts. The hatchback of a Golf V made from a sandwich element
weighs only 3.5 kilograms, which represents a weight
saving of 80 percent. Windshields manufactured
from Plexi­glas composite material are 40 to 50
percent lighter than the classic versions. High-grade
adhesives containing materials from Evonik also
help reduce weight because, for example, they
allow the use of light plastics that cannot be joined by
welding or soldering. The adhesion promoter
VESTAMELT even allows steel and plastic parts to
be bonded to form hybrid materials, and is typic­-
ally used in car doors and roofs, with weight savings
of 20 to 25 percent compared with steel parts.
Lightweight construction materials and technolo­gies such as lithium-ion batteries, low rolling
resis­tance tires, and fuel-efficient engine oils allow
an approximately 30 percent reduction in car
weight. A Golf V showcar, streamlined from the
normal 1,360 kg to just 989 kg, consumes 30
percent less fuel.
The Facts
The Question: How can fuel consumption in
cars be reduced?
The Idea: Cars that weigh less need less fuel.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik has developed
plastics and material concepts to replace heavy
metal parts in the engine and body.
The Benefits: The weight of the car is heavily
reduced, with a Golf V being streamlined from
1,360 kg to just 989 kg.
14. Diesel from a Nut
Photography: AFP/Gettyimages
Second-generation biodiesel, the fuel of the
future, comes out of the desert. And in addition to
serving as a fuel, it could also help create jobs
and feed the world’s population. But no food crops
or valuable traditional cultivable land are needed
to obtain the oil for this biodiesel; the key to success
here is an extremely unassuming plant.
Despite the fierce heat and severely limited agricultural potential, green plants grow from the earth
to a height of two meters. Workers make their way
along the rows of plants harvesting the fruit, an ­
oil-containing nut. The plantation, in the midst of the
steppe, appears to have sprung up from nowhere.
­jatropha curcas is the name of the plant giving rise to
such great hopes. This member of the spurge family is
expected to replace oilseed rape, soybean, and coconut, not as a food, but as a raw material for biodiesel.
Biodiesel is gaining in importance worldwide,
mainly because it is obtained from renewable
raw materials and is more eco-friendly than conventional fossil diesel; its CO2 balance, for example, is
significantly better. The pure vegetable oil cannot be
used directly as an automotive fuel, however, and
must first be modified in a chemical process. Evonik
provides a catalyst that makes this process viable:
Evonik’s alkoxides ensure a higher yield of biodiesel
for each liter of vegetable oil. Evonik is already
­focusing on second-generation biodiesel, and therefore on jatropha. The nuts of the plant are not edible,
nor does jatropha compete with other plants for farm34
land. On the contrary, it flourishes under difficult
­climatic conditions and even on land that has so far
been infertile. In the shadow of the large jatropha
plants, other plants can be cultivated, new cropping
soils obtained, and jobs created.
Although jatropha has not yet been cultivated
on a large scale, Evonik has already tested its catalysts
with the oil of the jatropha plant and has confirmed
that they are fully functional. So the company is
­already well prepared for second-generation biodiesel
and the fuel of the future.
The Facts
The Question: Can modern biodiesel serve as
more than an automotive fuel? Yes, it has already
been employed as a kerosene substitute for
jet aircraft, and for firing cogeneration plants.
The Idea: An eco-friendly fuel of which
stocks never run out, and which is superior to the
currently used biodiesel.
Evonik’s Response: Alkoxide catalysts
from Evonik make biodiesel production more
cost effective.
The Benefits: Biodiesel holds out the
possibility of replacing fossil diesel—to the
­advantage of the environment. Additionally,
­second-generation raw materials offer
the chance of utilizing land previously
unsuitable for agriculture, creating new jobs,
and cultivating other plants.
15. Sturdy
Photography: Rainer Dittrich
A simple comparison reveals astounding
­differences: A cubic meter of steel weighs
7,800 kilograms; the same volume of
aluminum weighs 2,700 kg; and ROHACELL,
the high-performance rigid foam from Evonik,
weighs in at just 32 kg.
ROHACELL makes light—in more than one sense
of the word—of the most complex tasks. On the
ground, it reduces the weight of cars, thus saving
fuel. In the air, it gives helicopters and planes lift
and reliability. In the water, it speeds up catamarans.
In brief, the material is in demand wherever
lightness and stability are important.
Today’s helicopters, for example, often have
high-performance rotor blades with a sandwich struc­
ture—and a ROHACELL rigid-foam core. Rotor
blades are subjected to enormous stresses. The rotor
of a helicopter traveling at 250 kilometers per
hour, for example, makes about 400 revolutions per
minute, so that speeds at the blade tips are about
800 meters per second. The resulting centrifugal
forces at the blade tips can reach about 1,000
times the gravitational acceleration. The sandwich
structure counters these forces.
In sandwich rotor blades, a core of foamed
­polymethacrylimide is bonded between two
­covering layers of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic
­under pressure and at high temperatures. The
result is a component of extremely high strength.
Of all the rigid foams on the market, in fact,
­ROHACELL possesses the best weight to mechanical
strength ratio, and also the highest heat deflection
temperature. The lightness of the material is used to
good effect in airplanes, for example in the winglets,
the small extensions to the wings that improve
­aerodynamic properties and reduce fuel consumption. And ROHACELL used in loading doors,
­undercarriage doors, stringer profiles in the engine
cowling, and folding tables in the passenger cabin
also contributes toward reducing weight and saving
fuel, thus minimizing CO2 emissions.
In wind power plants, the material is facilitating ­ecofriendly energy generation. And ROHACELL is
to be found even in catamarans and in the skis of
leading biathletes. All of which are markers on
the path to the continued worldwide success of this
remarkable material.
The Facts
The Question: How do you reduce weight—
and save energy—in planes, cars, and ships?
The Idea: By means of a sandwich structure
­combining extreme strength with low weight.
Evonik’s Response: ROHACELL rigid
foam, with the best weight to mechanical
strength ratio of any structural foam.
The Benefits: The use of ROHACELL as
the core in sandwich structures
significantly reduces the weight of cars
and planes. This saves energy and reduces
CO2 emissions.
16. Focus on a Climate Killer
Photography: Visuals Unlimited/Corbis
In the fight to prevent climate catastrophe,
nature could very soon be coming to its own aid:
Scientists have discovered bacteria that can ­
absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2)
from the air particularly efficiently and bind
it via their metabolism.
The findings of the research team headed by Prof.
Georg Fuchs at the University of Freiburg (designated
an “Excellence University”) have attracted much
­attention, and not only in scientific circles—because
the work could contribute toward reducing levels
of the climate killer carbon dioxide. Along with the
German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia
and the European Union, Evonik has supported this
research as an industry partner.
“In addition to technologies for reducing CO2
emissions, the uptake of CO2 by plants and bacteria is
one of the most promising research areas,” says Dr.
Harald Schmidt, head of Evonik’s Creavis research
unit. The use of “CO2-­guzzling” bacteria allows
not only removal of the greenhouse gas from the
atmosphere but also reduction of the CO2 emissions
from industrial processes could be reduced.
From the chemist’s viewpoint, the Freiburg results
open up another intriguing possibility: metabolic
pathways of this kind offer new options in synthesis,
either to replace chemical production processes by
more eco-friendly biotechnological processes, or to
develop new products by new synthetic routes.
This is also the goal of Evonik’s Biotechnology
­Science-to-Business Center in Marl, under the direction of Creavis, where the company is working on
novel biotechnological production of advanced materials. “For this purpose we’re increasingly using the
metabolic pathways of bacteria and fungi as a kind of
factory in the cell,” says Schmidt. “In the search for
new metabolic pathways of this kind, we struck gold
with the research group of Prof. Fuchs.”
“Our basic research on exotic bacteria was ­initially
significant only from the biological viewpoint,”
says Fuchs. “It was the collaboration with Evonik that
opened our eyes to the possibility of exploiting
metabolic pathways for eco-friendly biological synthesis of chemical building blocks.”
The new metabolic pathway discovered by the
Freiburg researchers has a key advantage: It offers
­access to materials not previously accessible via CO2.
The Facts
The Question: How can CO2 be removed
from the atmosphere in an energy efficient way?
The Idea: Bacteria can absorb CO2 from
the air and bind it via their metabolism.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik supports scientific
­research on the biological fixation of CO2.
The Benefits: If this metabolic pathway can be
scaled up for commercial application, nature
itself could effectively fight CO2 in the future.
17. Brainstorming
Photography: Dieter Debo/Evonik Industries
To translate the latest scientific knowledge as
speedily as possible into successful products and
processes: That is Evonik’s claim, and also what
­Science-to-Business (S2B), the Group’s unique
research concept, stands for. In Marl, in centers
­specially designed for the purpose, the company
integrates its strategic research and ­development
­activities in various future-oriented fields. The
success of this approach has already been borne out
by the Nanotronics and Biotechnology S2B Centers.
In its new Eco² S2B Center, opened in the fall of
2008, Evonik now combines, under a single roof, the
Group’s wide-ranging expertise in the fields of energy efficiency and climate protection. Development
and testing are carried out here, as is research into
new technologies, always with an eye open for uncon­
ventional or interdisciplinary approaches. It is the
needs of the market, rather than research for its own
sake, that determine the course of the work. And
the prospects of success for all the projects are continually being evaluated.
This “ideas factory” started off with subjects from
all three of Evonik’s business areas: Chemicals,
­Energy, and Real Estate. So Evonik is for the first
time exploiting on a large scale the opportunities
arising from its organization as an integrated industrial group.
In close conjunction with the Group’s business
units and partners from academic institutions and industry, Evonik’s researchers focus on five thematic
areas: CO2 separation and utilization, energy generation, energy storage, and solutions for improving
energy efficiency for customers and in Evonik’s own
The Eco² S2B Center is studying, for instance,
how climate-damaging CO2 from the power plant
process can be separated and utilized, for example, as
a chemical raw material. This might prove to be an
­alternative to simply storing the CO2 The researchers
also want to approach the problem of storing solar
and wind energy more efficiently than is currently
possible. Advanced batteries, such as those based on
lithium-ion technology, might be of help here.
Innovations are the key to new success, not only in
commercial terms but also in regard to energy
­efficiency or the fight against climate change. By the
year 2013, Evonik will have invested research
funds totaling more than €50 million in the new
S2B Center.
The Facts
The Question: How can a marketable solution
for climate protection be developed faster?
The Idea: The path from the initial
idea to future-oriented technology must
be shortened.
Evonik’s Response: The Eco² S2B Center, a
unique center in which the Group brings its
diverse expertise in energy efficiency and climate ­
protection under a single roof and so pursues
­targeted research.
The Benefits: New technologies for global
energy supply and efficient utilization of energy,
which protect the climate.
18. Slim Super Solar Films
Photography: Markus Schmidt
An intensive search is on for new and reasonably
priced materials that can help tap the sun’s
energy. Evonik is already working on the solar
­technology of the future—and the solar-energy
traps should be slim, powerful, and flexible.
Exploiting solar energy economically is no trivial
­matter. The glass plates between which the photovoltaically active films are embedded are heavy and
­expensive, which is a drawback in the production of
thin-film solar cells. The lower glass plate serves
as a substrate, and the upper as a barrier to moisture,
oxygen, and the effects of weathering. This system
of glass-on-glass solar modules normally requires expensive sub-structures that could account for as
much as one third of the total costs. Evonik’s Functional Films & Surfaces Project House is working
­toward the goal of replacing the glass barriers of
thin-film solar modules with a system of suitable
­plastic films. Among other advantages, the thin-film
technology allows energy generation even in weak
or diffuse residual light.
PLEXIGLAS films have the properties required
for this system: high light transmission and reliable
protection against external influences. Evonik has
many years of experience in these films. However, the
project house team faces a particular challenge in
that the conventional plastics must be specially surface
modified to have barrier properties that significantly
reduce the permeation of moisture and oxygen. One
possible approach is via coating technologies that
a­ pply silicon or aluminum oxide on the plastic
surface in a layer that is only a few nanometers thick:
an ultra-thin film with barrier properties, so to speak.
The project house experts intend to go even
­further, with production of solar modules in which
a polymer also replaces the second supporting
glass layer. Solar modules of this type would be fully
flexible and could be produced much more eco­
nomically than before in a continuous roll-to-roll
­process. This would allow production of extremely
lightweight solar cells, which could simply be attached to the roof without the need for an additional
sub-structure. If that succeeds, solar energy will be
easily tapped.
The Facts
The Question: How can solar energy be more
­ fficiently utilized?
The Idea: If the share of solar cells in energy
­generation is to increase, their production and installation must become significantly cheaper.
Evonik’s Response: The Functional Films &
­Surfaces Project House is working on ­
the development of high-performance plastic
films that will allow roll-to-roll production
of thin-film solar cells.
The Benefits: Thin-film technology also
functions in relatively unfavorable light
conditions, so that solar power can be used cost
­effectively even in the middle latitudes.
19. On One’s
Own Behalf
Photography: Karsten Bootmann/Evonik Industries
Recent heating bills came as a rude shock to householders in Germany, who had to make follow-up
payments of about 30 percent on average as a result
of exploding energy prices in 2008. Many consumers are now thinking about changing and improving
the way they heat their homes. As an energy
­customer, Evonik too has been considering optimization possibilities—relying mainly on help from
its internal experts.
Evonik is continually scrutinizing its own processes
and practices to save money and secure its com­
petitive position, and also to reduce the environmental
A couple of years ago, for example, the Group
­began examining individual sites in the Chemicals
Business Area in detail to cut costs. One of the motiva­
tions for this effort was the continuing global increase
in the prices of energy and raw materials. Since
early 2008, a team of about 30 employees has been
working to ensure that not a single kilowatt-hour
of power or kilogram of raw material goes to waste.
The organizational unit is called Operational Excel­
lence (OPEX), and the name says it all. Its objective is
to strengthen the competitive position of the Chemi­
cals Business Area by continuously and sustainably in­
creasing productivity at all sites.
The way the program works in practice is as
­follows. Experts from various units visit the plants to
gain an outsider’s perspective on workflows at the
site, gather information, and propose improvements—
which concern, but are not restricted to, increasing
energy efficiency.
Particularly in the Chemicals Business Area, the
company is witnessing explosive increases in energy
costs: 122 percent for power and 147 percent for
gas over the period 2003–2009, despite the fact that
power and gas consumption in the same period
increased only by 18 and 9 percent, respectively.
This is clearly a case for OPEX intervention. The
team has now conducted the Efficient Energy Manage­
ment special diagnosis at 23 German and foreign sites.
Savings potentials averaging between 5 and 26 per­
cent relative to the energy costs at the site were identi­
fied, for example, by recycling cooling water or through
the use of turbines for power generation. More than
200 such optimizations, most of which have already
been implemented, could reduce energy costs
throughout the Group—by as much as €21 million.
The Facts
The Question: How does an industrial group
continually optimize its operations and energy
The Idea: By continually scrutinizing processes
and practices, and implementing possibilities for
Evonik’s Response: Evonik has established
the Operational Excellence (OPEX) organizational
unit. The goal of the operations experts is
to ensure outstanding outputs and operating
parameters for all sites and production-related
processes over the long term.
The Benefits: Lower energy costs, improved en­
ergy utilization—and reduced environmental load.
20. Do It Yourself
Photography: Frank Preuss/Evonik Industries
“But we’ve always done it that way.” These words
can kill fresh ideas and put a damper on motivated,
thinking employees in modern organizations. Yet
it’s often these very employees who know best how
­improvements can be made in the workplace or
the plant. Evonik recognizes this and benefits from it.
Many of the Group’s employees have already suc­
cessfully put their ideas into practice. Martin Rösler is
among them: The clever energy saving ideas of this
employee of Evonik’s Voerde power plant recently led
to his being awarded the title Bester Vorschlagsautor
Deutschlands (originator of the best suggestion in
Germany) by the German Institute for Business Admin­
istration and Management Development. Rösler
had worked intensively on the startup program for the
A and B units of the Voerde power plant, a program
that had hitherto been constrained by fixed limits and
grades. He worked out a more flexible and fine-tuned
plan that allows significant reductions in the heating
oil and coal required for the startup of the units.
This example shows that success often comes from
within the organization—from convinced and com­
mitted employees for whom the business success
of their company, climate protection, and economical
­energy consumption are all important concerns.
They are not discouraged by even the most
­formidable challenges. Evonik employees Christian
Gerdemann and Udo Sahlmann, from the Industrial
Chemicals Business Unit, thought deeply over
two years about how energy utilization in hydrogen
produc­tion could be improved, continuing all the
while with their normal everyday work. A process
­developed as a result of their skills and expertise now
ensures that the heat generated in the plant can be
used to produce steam: a perfect example of energy
efficiency through personal initiative.
Evonik’s suggestions scheme, through which all
such ideas are submitted, saves the company millions
of euros every year. Because this expertise should
be made available to as many people as possible in the
Group, Evonik’s Chemicals Business Area also has
an idea exchange program. This ensures that good
ideas are exploited internally to even greater effect.
Because, far from being frowned upon, imitation in
this case is expressly encouraged!
The Facts
The Question: How can employees make a
­ ersonal additional contribution to economical
energy consumption and climate protection?
The Idea: By utilizing the practical skills and
knowledge of superbly trained employees to gen­
erate new ideas and effect positive changes.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik encourages, helps,
and motivates employees to contribute their
ideas and develop them. By way of an ideas
­management system, the company ensures that
good ideas make their full impact.
The Benefits: Energy efficiency and cost sav­
ings as a result of personal initiatives. Through em­
ployees’ suggestions for improvement, Evonik
has derived net benefits amounting to more than
€60 million between 2003 and 2008—taking
into account only the first year after implemen­
tation of a proposal. Most ideas, however, bring
­palpable benefits over several years.
21. Wood
Chips for
Power and
Photography: Frank Preuss/Evonik Industries
Rather than simply disposing of old furniture,
tree loppings, and construction timber, Evonik
uses these to generate power and heat. Plants ­
exist throughout Germany that make an important
contribution to the energy mix, thus protecting
the climate.
A sea of wood stretches out as far as the eye can
see. Enormous shovel loaders feed planks and logs
to a shredder, from which wood chips are ejected
into a storage bunker and then transported on conveyor belts to the boiler. Like any other power
plant, the biomass cogeneration plant in Neuwied,
near ­Koblenz, uses boilers, steam turbines, and ­
flue-gas scrubbers. But instead of coal the boiler is
fed with wood scrap, a renewable raw material.
­During its growth, the wood has absorbed as much
carbon dioxide (CO2) as will be released by its
­combustion in the power plant. Power produced from
CO2-neutral wood thus comes under the German
­Renewable Energies Act. In Neuwied, for example,
annual CO2 emissions are lower by about 60,000
metric tons (t) than if fossil fuels had been used.
Evonik operates ten biomass power plants in Germany,
some on its own and others with partners. This puts
Evonik among Germany’s three largest players in the
exploitation of biomass for energy. An eleventh
­biomass power plant is currently under construction
in Warndt in the Saarland region; it will start operating at the end of the year with wood from the
Saarland forest.
In Neuwied, Evonik, in conjunction with its partner Flohr, produces about 42,000 megawatt-hours of
power annually from about 56,000 t of biomass.
Wood combustion is optimally leveraged when the
heat that is generated is also utilized. In Neuwied,
a neighboring sheet-metal factory purchases around
81,000 t of process steam every year. The steam heats
the acid baths in which steel is cleaned before coating.
The biomass cogeneration plant in Ilmenau,
Thurin­gia, that Evonik operates jointly with Ilmenauer
Wärmeversorgung GmbH also supplies power and
heat. The heat goes into a district heating network.
The power plant replaced older plants that generated
district heating using heavy oil and brown coal, and
subsequently gas. The primary energy factor for dis-
trict heat generated in biomass cogeneration
plants is 0.21. This factor reflects the ratio of primary
to final energy; the low­er the factor, the more efficient is the energy generation. By way of comparison,
the factor is about 1 for gas heating.
The Facts
The Question: How can CO2 emissions during
energy generation be reduced?
The Idea: Wood scrap, which has absorbed CO2
during growth, is not simply disposed of but used
as fuel in cogeneration plants.
Evonik’s Response: Evonik generates about 335
­gigawatt-hours (GWh) of heat and 385 GWh of
power in ten plants. This can provide more
than 18,500 single-family households with heat
and about 96,000 with power. An eleventh
­biomass power plant is under construction.
The Benefits: Every year, Evonik saves the
­environment more than 350,000 t of CO2 that
would have resulted by generating the same
amount of energy from fossil fuels.
Evonik Industries AG,
Christian ­Kullmann,
Rellinghauser Straße 1–11,
45128 Essen
Editor in Chief:
Ruben Thiel (responsible
for editorial content)
Communication Services,
Editorial Department
Redaktion 4
The map shows
a selection of
the countries in
which Evonik
has employees
Publishing House:
Hoffmann und Campe
­Verlag GmbH,
Harvestehuder Weg 42,
20149 Hamburg,
Telephone +49 40 / 441 88-457,
Fax +49 40 / 441 88-236,
e-mail [email protected]
Neef & Stumme, Wittingen
© 2009 by
Evonik Industries AG, Essen.
Reproduction only with
[email protected]
Note on Brands
are ­protected brands of
Evonik ­Industries AG
or its subsidiaries. They are
set in capitals in the text.
Evonik Industries is the creative industrial group
from Germany, operating in three business areas:
Chemicals, Energy and Real Estate. As a global
leader in specialty chemicals, an expert in power
­generation from hard coal and renewable energies,
and one of the largest private residential real estate
companies in Germany, Evonik is consistently
­expanding its top position in the corresponding
­markets. Our strengths are creativity, specialization,
continuous self-renewal, and reliability.
The approximately 43,000 employees of the
Evonik Group provide essential answers to the next
economic megatrends—energy efficiency, health
and wellness, and globalization and demography—
opening up promising new growth markets. Evonik is
managed in accordance with clear principles of
­modern value management, with emphasis on profitable growth and increased value.
Research and development as well as innovative power are the cornerstones of Evonik’s corporate
strategy. More than 20 percent of our total sales
in the Chemicals Business Area are based on products,
applications, and technologies introduced within the
last five years.
The Performance
Polymers Business Unit
of Evonik Industries
is a worldwide manufacturer
of PMMA products sold
under the PLEXIGLAS® ­
trademark on the European,
Asian, African and Australian
continents and under the
trademark ACRYLITE® in the
The Science-to-BusinessCenters Nanotronics
and Bio are cofinanced by
the European Union
and supported by the state
of NRW.
Evonik Industries AG
Rellinghauser Straße 1–11
45128 Essen
Contact: [email protected]