Innovation and Technological Advances
A strong focus on innovation and Research & Development is one of the four dimensions of Clariant’s purpose, with the innovative chemistry expanding what is possible to the benefit of all. Clariant responds to emerging macrotrends to stay ahead in dynamic markets and create high-performing solutions for rapidly changing customer needs.
Innovation drives profitable growth in all businesses and provides the capabilities to position Clariant and its customers at the forefront of a sustainable world. The company’s cutting-edge innovations meet the increasing demand for sustainability performance and create long-term value for Clariant’s stakeholders.
Innovation activities at Clariant focus on products, processes, and services along the company’s entire value chain, from suppliers to internal operations, customers, and end users. A culture of innovation is also an important factor in creating a compelling work environment, boosting employee motivation, and helping Clariant to attract and retain talents.
Clariant’s Global Innovation & Sustainability Council (GISC) oversees all innovation activities across the Group. It shapes the sustainability and innovation agenda of the company, focusing on a sustainability-driven portfolio transformation. Under the lead of the CTSO, the GISC comprises the business units’ innovation heads, the head of sustainability transformation, the technology and innovation office, as well as the CEO and the board delegate of the Innovation and Sustainability Committee as permanent guests. Other key functions join upon invitation.
The charter of the GISC outlines its focus: reviewing Clariant’s sustainability, innovation, and technology strategy; ensuring that value creation is sustainability-focused and market- and customerdriven; challenging the effectiveness and efficiency of strategy execution; deciding on global or regional cross-BU programs, projects, and initiatives; and acting as an advisory platform to the Executive CommitteeExecutive CommitteeUntil 30 June 2022, the Executive Committee was mainly responsible for implementing and monitoring the Group strategy, for the financial and operational management of the Group, and for the efficiency of the Group’s structure and organization. Effective 1 July 2022, the Executive Committee was replaced by the Executive Steering Committee (ESC)..
In 2022, Clariant’s Service Unit Group Innovation & Sustainability (GIS) applied structural changes to further support the necessary link between innovation and sustainability. The GIS now consists of the following units: Environment Safety Health Affairs (ESHA), Integrated Group System Management (IGSM), and Global Product Stewardship and Sustainability Transformation. A lean Program Management Office & Innovation Center Management Function manages Clariant’s Innovation Centers and ensures standardized processes, tools, and reporting. Group Biotechnology combined with the Business Line Biofuels & Derivatives, while Global IP Management was merged into Group Legal. Emerging Technologies was subdivided into the Analytical Sciences unit, which joined the new GIS organization. High-Throughput Experimentation and Digital Formulation Factory were integrated as new units into BU ICS to have a closer alignment on this technology platform with the business. Clariant regularly reviews its innovation approach as part of the Strategic Management ProcessStrategic Management ProcessClariant’s Strategic Management Process (SMP) is conducted by the business units in collaboration with Corporate Planning & Strategy. The SMP ensures Group level and business unit strategies are connected and are updated together. Clariant refreshed its SMP in 2021..
Clariant actively contributes to the update of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) framework for portfolio sustainability assessments (PSAs). It contributes as a member of the working group developing the methodological update according to the requirements of the EU Green Deal and other initiatives. Clariant is using its Portfolio Value Program (PVP) as central steering element of the portfolio towards more sustainability. The PVP was introduced in 2012. It was developed in cooperation with the internationally renowned Collaborating Center on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), a nonprofit organization and »think and do tank« founded by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the Wuppertal Institute.
In 2022, the Portfolio Value Program (PVP) methodology was updated in anticipation of customer requests, upcoming legislation, and trends. Based on 39 sustainability criteria covering all life cycle phases, the assessment allows Clariant to design and promote new solutions with less footprint and a higher handprint. The updated PVP, also called PVP 2.0, enables Clariant to provide more accurate and credible information on the performance of the portfolio across all life cycle phases. This helps Clariant’s customers to have a deeper understanding of the effects, releases, and emissions of Clariant’s products and services. Read more on the Portfolio Value Program.
Strategic innovation process
Clariant’s innovation pipeline is built along the Idea to MarketIdea to MarketIdea to Market, Market to Customer, and Customer to Cash – these are the three value-creation processes at the core of Clariant’s business model. Idea to Market involves scouting global trends, identifying business opportunities, exploring unmet customer needs, developing products, as well as commercializing and monitoring business performance. It is essential for developing a well-filled product and service pipeline that delivers innovations to address customer needs. process, one of the three value-creation processes at the core of Clariant’s business modelBusiness ModelThe business model illustrates how a company draws on various capitals as inputs and converts them into outputs, such as products and services, through its business activities. The company’s activities and outputs lead to outcomes that affect the capitals, thus impacting the company and its stakeholders.. This process involves scouting global trends, identifying business opportunities, exploring unmet customer needs, developing products, and commercializing and monitoring business performance. It is essential for developing a well-filled product and service pipeline that delivers marketable innovations.
According to the Idea to MarketIdea to MarketIdea to Market, Market to Customer, and Customer to Cash – these are the three value-creation processes at the core of Clariant’s business model. Idea to Market involves scouting global trends, identifying business opportunities, exploring unmet customer needs, developing products, as well as commercializing and monitoring business performance. It is essential for developing a well-filled product and service pipeline that delivers innovations to address customer needs. process, Clariant groups all innovation projects into three categories. Class 1 projects have a sales potential in the double-digit million CHF range and have strong strategic relevance for Clariant. These projects are managed by Innovation Black Belts. Innovation Black Belts typically dedicate their full working time to managing Class 1 projects. Class 2 and Class 3 projects are usually led by Innovation Green Belts, who dedicate part of their work time to these projects parallel to other R&D tasks. Innovation Black and Green Belts are trained and coached on tools and process know-how by Innovation Master Black Belts.
Development of key performance indicators
After achieving its growth target for innovation sales in 2021, Clariant met expectations again in 2022 despite supply chain shortages and the challenging economic environment linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clariant endeavors to realize a local currency growth rate of 2–3 % through innovation. The target is to achieve 1–2 % sales growth from top-line innovations alone. This means innovations that create new sales in new markets, by which they actively contribute to Clariant’s net growth. In 2022, innovation sales of the continuing businesses strongly contributed to the company’s overall recovery, growing by more than 5.5 %. This was a result of Clariant’s continuous commitment and efforts to understand its customers’ needs and to deliver better and more sustainable solutions.
Research & Development spend in 2022 was CHF 160 million for the continuing businesses, with a slight increase compared to CHF 155 million in 2021 continuing business only. As a share of sales, R&D spending was 3.1 %, a decrease compared to 2021, reflecting the efficiency gain in the streamlined R&D organization after the divestment of Business Unit PigmentsPigmentsPigments are substances used for coloring; they are used in a technical manner, for example in the manufacture of dyes, varnishes, and plastics. In 2020, Clariant launched the divestment process of its Pigments business, which was completed on 3 January 2022. and sales growth in 2022. R&D employees (in full-time equivalents) decreased from >860 to >785 for continuing operations.
Clariant’s state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure in three Clariant Innovation Centers, ten contract R&D Centers and dedicated Technology Centers, and >45 regional Technical Centers form the basis for successful innovation while ensuring proximity to the customer. In 2022, the overall number of active projects in the innovation pipeline slightly increased to >330 projects in the continuing businesses. With still more than 65 active scientific collaborations, the number decreased compared to 2021, as several projects were completed during last year.
In 2022, Clariant slightly increased the number of employees trained as Innovation Belts to >375. These employees are a key factor in ensuring a well-filled project pipeline and efficient project management. The number of Class 1 projects decreased from >65 to >60 in comparison to the previous year.
At the end of 2022, Clariant’s continuing operations’ patent portfolio counted >4 300 patents, and the continuing operations’ trademark portfolio included >5 900 trademarks. The number of patents and trademarks decreased in comparison to 2021 due to the divestment of Business Unit PigmentsPigmentsPigments are substances used for coloring; they are used in a technical manner, for example in the manufacture of dyes, varnishes, and plastics. In 2020, Clariant launched the divestment process of its Pigments business, which was completed on 3 January 2022., as well as due to stringent portfolio optimization measures.
Clariant has structured its Research & Development activities along five technology platforms: Chemistry & Materials, Biotechnology, Catalysis, Process Technology, and Emerging Technologies. All technology platforms collaborate closely with the business units to ensure that technology push and market pull go hand in hand.
The Emerging Technologies Unit
The Emerging Technologies Unit is a central platform for technologies on the rise. The goal is to deliver major innovative solutions for the business units by detecting upcoming megatrends with cross-BU relevance that are key to Clariant’s competitiveness. The unit acts as an entry point for external technology leads and ensures their initial validation and stringent follow-up until successful integration into the business units.
One current focus area of the Emerging Technologies platform is high-throughput experimentation (HTE). This approach combines research practices designed to deliver more information with less effort. It relies on automation and robotics, miniaturization, and parallelization to plan and execute experiments with significantly increased speed and optimized resource consumption. Combined with computational tools, intelligent experimental design, and cutting-edge data analytics, HTE enables Clariant to explore the full solution space and find correlations that are undetectable using traditional methods.
Transformational platform technologies such as HTE enable the digital transformation of R&D and innovation processes, accelerating the development of new products and the optimization of existing products, and reducing time-to-market. By generating very large sets of product performance data and efficiently exploring new research areas, HTE makes it possible to acquire in-depth knowledge and quickly identify new leads. Research topics include microbiological efficacy testing via high-throughput biological assays for personal care and crop applications, as well as fast-response-unit-approaches for the discovery and development of optimized chemistries and formulations for hydrate inhibitors, pour point depressants, and asphaltene inhibitors for the oil business.
Through the development and integration of HTE techniques such as miniaturization, parallelization, and automation, Clariant R&D can evolve from labor-intensive, batch-based, semi-automated operations to fully automated experimental approaches with lower amounts of consumables and reduced energy costs, making existing processes more sustainable and economically viable, boosting safe and sustainable design of new chemicals, and ultimately reducing time-to-market of new offerings.
Besides high-throughput capabilities dedicated to catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself. R&D in Palo Alto (USA) and to biotechnology in Planegg (Germany), Clariant can rely today on two multipurpose HTE labs in Frankfurt (Germany) and Houston (USA), which are able to support formulation and synthesis processes for various segments and applications and quickly transition from one project to another. The value of HTE as a technology platform promises to fundamentally transform the way Clariant tackles some of the most pressing sustainability challenges the company faces today in R&D and product innovation.
INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES
|Continuing operations||Discontinued operations||Total 2022||2021||2020||2019||2018|
|Growth through innovation (%) 2||>5.5||n.a.||>5.5||>3.5||>1.5 3||<3.0||>3.0|
|Research & Development expenditures (CHF m)||160||2||162||167||195 1.3||207||209|
|Research & Development expenditures as share of sales (%)||3.1||n.a.||3.1||3.2||3.8 1.3||3.2||3.2|
|Clariant Innovation Centers 4||3||n.a.||3||3||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.|
|Research & Development Centers and dedicated Technology Centers||10||n.a.||10||10||8 3||8||8|
|Technical Centers||>45||n.a.||>45||>45||>50 3||>50||>50|
|Patents (year-end)||>4 300||n.a.||>4 300||>5 100||>5 400 3||>6 500||6 700|
|Trademarks (year-end)||>5 900||n.a.||>5 900||>7 400||>7 400 3||>9 000||8 900|
|Active innovation projects||>330||n.a.||>330||>325||>350 3||>375||>375|
|Of which Class 1 projects with double-digit million sales potential or of strategic relevance||>60||n.a.||>60||>65||>55 2||>65||>70|
|Scientific collaborations||>65||n.a.||>65||>80||>100 3||>125||>125|
2 Contains the contribution to growth of the innovation portfolio from both Top Line Innovation and Life Cycle Innovation.
Potential cannibalization of existing sales by Life Cycle Innovation has not been excluded.
3 Excluding Business Unit MasterbatchesMasterbatchesThese are plastic additives in the form of granules with dyestuffs or other additives used to dye or alter the properties of natural plastic.
4 The categories of contract R&D sites were reorganized in 2021 due to changes in Clariant's R&D landscape after, e.g., divestments.
The Process Technology Unit
The Process Technology platform is a key enabler for Clariant’s Sustainability Transformation and continuous improvement tool for process safety and reliability. Navigated by the global program »Process Innovation and Sustainability,« it supports the business units in continuously shaping their production processes, not only for state of the art, but also for upcoming new technologies. This facet assures Clariant’s technological competitiveness in its manufacturing processes as well as its leading role in achieving its net zero emission target in operations by 2050.
With a regular systematic analysis of major technological risks and opportunities related to Clariant’s production process landscape, the Global Process Technology platform identifies the most relevant focus areas for medium- to long-term process innovation. This assessment is conducted jointly with all business units as well as experts from the Group Innovation & Sustainability and the Group Operational Excellence organization, including regional hubs. A key element in this context is to increase the readiness level of the sites and plants for the successful execution of Clariant’s sustainability roadmap. Most process innovation projects that were launched in 2022 are focused on reduction of CO2 emissions, reduction of environmental pollutants in products, optimization of wastewater treatment, and reduction of energy consumption through electrification of processes and heat integration. In addition, the process innovation program and the process technology experts are being successfully involved in early phases of capacity expansion projects to ensure that strategic investments are based on state-of-the-art technologies versus multiplying current processes. Considering in particular the increasing environmental challenges regarding energy supplies, emission reduction, and water scarcity, it is crucial to find sustainable approaches to established ways of working for a green planet in near future.
To address these challenges, the program Process Innovation and Sustainability is built on a cross-functional collaboration between R&D, engineering, process technology, as well as energy experts. Furthermore, digital approaches and computational methods are involved as one of the key success factors for finding optimum process designs. Developing process technology hubs in the regions ensures that project execution takes place in close alignment with the local manufacturing sites and business unit partners and strengthens capability built in regions as driven by local market needs.
In a nutshell, the Process Innovation and Sustainability Program is the main foreseeable driver to ensure the viability of Clariant’s manufacturing processes through »cradle-to-grave« technology and life cycle management.
»Innovate for sustainability« is one of Clariant’s values. Sustainability is becoming the focus of virtually all aspects of daily life. Replacing fossil-based raw materials with bio-based ones has been on the front burner of applied research activities at Clariant for several years. At Clariant, the Business Segment Biofuels & Derivatives focuses on turning »biomass residue streams« into valuable products through biological processes. The input »residue« streams can be as diverse as cereal straw, corn fiber, bagasse, or biomass-containing municipal waste, if they contain significant amounts of cellulose. Cellulose is a nonedible sugar-polymer and an important structural component of the cell wall of green plants. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on earth and convertible into valuable raw materials.
The prime example of such an innovative application is the sunliquid® process. Clariant’s Business Segment Biofuels & Derivatives developed a fundamental platform to access and release the polymer-bound sugars of cellulosic material. The released sugars can then be used as an energy source for microorganisms engineered to produce a broad range of fuels and/or biochemicals. In the sunliquid® process, a second biological step transforms the sugars to ethanol, allowing the production of non-food-competing bioethanol for more sustainable transportation. While the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy is gaining momentum, Biotechnology is a key enabler for Clariant’s Sustainability Transformation to leverage the full potential of renewable resources.
Key areas of innovation
The technology platforms fuel Clariant’s innovation pipeline and drive progress in four key areas: bio-economy, hydrogen economy, circular solutions, and digital innovation. While Clariant already generates sales in these fields, the company aims to play an even stronger role in the future – by creating safer products and contributing to a more sustainable industry with a reduced CO2 footprint and handprint.
Clariant contributes to the bio-economy with its sunliquid® technology – a sophisticated technology to convert lignocellulosic agricultural residues into second-generation bio-ethanol or cellulosic sugars forming a renewable basis for a broad range of chemicals. In 2022, Clariant officially inaugurated its sunliquid® plant in Podari, near Craiova, Romania, for the production of 2G bio-ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol is expected to play a crucial role in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, as intended by the EU Commission in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). By sourcing feedstock locally, greenhouse gas emissions can be minimized, leading to more economic opportunities along the regional value chain. Besides being a drop-in solution for fuel blending application, the sunliquid® technology provides additional uses in downstream applications for sustainable aviation fuel and bio-based chemicals.
It is quite challenging to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector due to the high aircraft operational energy. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) are a key component of Clariant’s technology pillar and an enabler to mitigate the environmental impact of aviation. Clariant has several touchpoints with sustainable aviation fuels across three businesses, both in the existing portfolio and with future opportunities. There are: advanced biofuels, purification aids and catalytic solutions. From the increased adoption of sustainable aviation fuels, a strong demand surge is expected for the mineral adsorbentsAdsorbentsUsually solid substances which are able to selectively accumulate certain substances from adjacent gaseous or liquid phases. and the sunliquid® business.
Clariant is committed to combating the threats of climate change. A major challenge is the high proportion of fossil carbon in many consumer products. By substituting fossil carbon with bio-based carbon, the earth’s natural carbon cycle can be restored. In 2022, Clariant launched the new VITA range of bio-based nonionic surfactants that are 100 % made from plants through bio-ethanol. The surfactants are fully segregated, meaning that the plant-based origin of their raw materials is fully traceable and measurable, with a 100 % Renewable Carbon Index (RCI). Due to the biogenic carbon uptake of their raw materials, the VITA surfactants are natural CO₂ savers. Additionally, they have a chemical and performance equivalence in comparison with the fossil-based variety. Other bio-based products of Clariant include the biodegradable, low-carbon-footprint automatic dishwashing surfactant Genapol® Complete and the award-winning, multifunctional preservation booster Velsan® Flex, which is highly water-soluble, allowing formulation flexibility. Velsan® Flex has an RCI of 93 %. The products have an outstanding compatibility with environmental labels.
Clariant and Technip Energies reached another milestone by installing EARTH® technology at a large-scale hydrogen plant in one of Europe’s biggest refineries. The revamp is expected to significantly increase the plant’s production capacity. EARTH® is a pioneering drop-in solution that enables a capacity increase in the production of hydrogen by up to 20 % while decreasing CO2 emissions by up to 10 % and reducing makeup fuel consumption by up to 50 % per unit of hydrogen produced. The technology is carbon-capture-ready and can play a key role in global efforts to reduce emissions with low-carbon hydrogen.
Circular Economy is one of Clariant’s focus areas. Clariant’s EcoCircle initiative focuses on circularity in the plastics industry.
Driven by its vision to enable a circular economy, Clariant launched an innovative portfolio of flexible custom solutions for the emerging market of chemical plastics recycling in 2022. The new HDMax® catalysts and Clarit™ adsorbentsAdsorbentsUsually solid substances which are able to selectively accumulate certain substances from adjacent gaseous or liquid phases. are designed for the purification of pyrolysis oil made from hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste to achieve a cracker-compatible feedstock. The portfolio speaks to the need for flexible and economical solutions that enable producers to remove a wide range of contaminants that are continuously changing in the feed. The contaminant removal is possible regardless of process configuration and plastic waste feedstock. When HDMax® catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself. and Clarit™ adsorbentsAdsorbentsUsually solid substances which are able to selectively accumulate certain substances from adjacent gaseous or liquid phases. are combined, the adsorbentsAdsorbentsUsually solid substances which are able to selectively accumulate certain substances from adjacent gaseous or liquid phases. extend the lifetime of the catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself. by reducing impurities. The pyrolysis oils are made from a chemical recycling process that reduces the environmental burden created by plastic waste that would have been incinerated or landfilled. It then enables a circular value chain for the production of base chemicals.
Clariant not only provides circular solutions for the deicing industry but also fosters cooperation to enable sustainable mining. In 2022, Clariant introduced the Tailings Management Program and the global Competence Center for Tailings Treatment (CCTT) dedicated to developing chemical solutions. With the chemical solutions, Clariant aims for a more efficient waste treatment with less tailings dams. This will transform the way the industry handles mining waste. The CCTT comprises four complementary technology platforms: Flotation, Magnetic Separation, Dewatering and Rheology Modification. Flotation chemicals for slimes could help mines recover valuable minerals that are deteriorating, while flotation chemicals for secondary mining enable operators to reprocess old tailings. In addition, filter aids lead to a better dewatering of tailings, resulting in drier stacks and faster throughput. The Competence Center is an important milestone for Clariant’s strategy to support the global mining industry’s focus on sustainability.
In 2022, Clariant launched the D3 PROGRAM to offer more sustainable solutions to the oil and gas industry. D3 consists of three key pillars – Decarb, Densify, and Detax. Decarb utilizes nanotechnology and ingredients from renewable sources to reduce carbon emissions in customers’ operations. Densify facilitates logistics improvements and furthers sustainability initiatives through a new application with concentrated products. Detox incorporates formulations with more environmentally acceptable raw materials. Key benefits of the program include simplifying logistics for both transportation and storage, introducing more environmentally acceptable formulations and concentrated ingredients that require smaller dosage application, optimizing onshore and offshore operations, and improving operational safety. Thanks to the D3 PROGRAM, more possibilities to positively impact oil and gas operations can be created.
Digital innovation at Clariant encompasses a full array of digital-relevant capabilities and tools, including lab automation, high-throughput experimentation, data science, computational science, and IT capabilities. By smartly leveraging such digital technologies at each stage of the product innovation cycle, Clariant is able to design new offerings, discover new applications for existing products, reduce environmental impact of chemicals, and maximize their sustainable value, while decreasing the overall time-to-market.
Besides investing in digitalization and continuously adopting digital technologies as they mature, Clariant has also recently launched the Digital Innovation Factory, an innovation program that drives business opportunities through a comprehensive digital approach, making it possible to continuously differentiate offerings and get better products to the market faster.
Initial focus has been given to selected business segments such as Paints & Coatings, where digitalization can significantly improve efficiency and effectiveness of formulation processes and simultaneously enable new digital business models and go-to-market strategies. Via the Formulation Factory approach, digital assistants support Clariant formulators and customers to quickly identify the most suitable products for a given application.
More recent Digital Factory activities are directed towards accelerating early discovery processes and step-change safe-and-sustainable-by-design initiatives to leverage portfolio enhancement opportunities and continuously differentiate offerings. These efforts further support the positioning of Clariant as a leader in Sustainability & Innovation.
Clariant completed the rollout of the newly implemented Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) for digitalization of R&D data. The ELN has three core elements: a chemical inventory management system to backtrack and manage reagents used in laboratories, a study notebook with templates to enter R&D data, and analysis and visualization tools to analyze and correlate experimental data. In March 2022, new software improvements were released for better usability of the tool. Going forward, yearly updates are scheduled, starting from Q4/2023. In collaboration with a scientific R&D software company, further improvements to the system will be implemented. System improvements include functional extensions in the formulation module, which is used to document all chemical formulations, experiment ingredients lists, and created mixtures.
Innovation management formats
Clariant has two cutting-edge innovation formats: the Innovation Engine (iEngine) and the Innovation Garage (iGarage).
iEngines implement a sequence of virtual and face-to-face workshops to identify, prioritize, and develop high-quality, less obvious technology solutions for unmet customer needs. iEngines occur at a very early stage of the innovation process to eliminate less attractive options quickly, as developing viable technology options often takes several years.
iGarages host a cross-functional team that is supported by external experts and innovation coaches. The team convenes off-site over two to six months to develop business options in collaboration with prospective customers and other stakeholders. By applying agile design thinking and lean start-up methodologies, the iGarage format fuels the innovation pipeline through fast-paced, highly efficient ideation processes that support the development of market-validated innovations in discovery and incubation stages, which the business units subsequently scale further.
Clariant complemented these innovation management concepts with a lean four-week format called miniGarage. It is limited in scope and accelerates innovation projects by applying an outside-in view to a set of critical assumptions.
The formats take place according to the business units’ needs and availability of prospective team members. In 2022, Business Unit Additives held an iGarage on alternative low-carbon footprint material streams for flame retardants. Business Unit ICS held two iGarages: The first was in the area of material Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing, while the other was in the area of Crop Solutions. Business Unit Catalysts held an iGarage on Phthalate-Free Polypropylene Catalysts. All projects were aimed at developing more sustainable solutions for the respective business areaBusiness AreaFor the financial reporting, Clariant grouped its businesses in three core Business Areas: Care Chemicals, Catalysis, and Natural Resources. As of 1 January 2023, the Group conducts its business through the three newly formed Business Units Care Chemicals, Catalysts, and Adsorbents & Additives and will report accordingly as of the first quarter of 2023.. For each iGarage, more than 50 customer and industry expert interviews were conducted to better understand the market and upcoming business opportunities. Responsible use of limited natural resources was the target.
Clariant continuously seeks collaboration with external partners for the promotion of innovation. Its vast network comprises of experts in various important fields.
The Open Innovation (OI 2.0) initiative supports Clariant’s business units in identifying collaboration partners around the world, which connects Clariant to the external technology and innovation community. It opens the innovation process for collaboration with external partners, such as governments, academics, companies, and citizens. It also introduces external ideas and tools to expand the innovation pipeline value and outputs. An important element of Open Innovation is the crowdsourcing of technology solutions through Open Innovation challenges. Clariant’s EcoCircle program is a prominent example of the OI 2.0 approach.
Low-Carbon Emitting Technologies (LCET) initiative by the World Economic Forum
Clariant is a founding member of the Low-Carbon Emitting Technologies (LCET) initiative by the World Economic Forum and the world’s leading chemical producers. It aims to accelerate the development and upscaling of low-carbon emitting technologies for chemical production and related value chains. It is the first CEO-led coalition in the chemical industry, focused on transformation toward a decarbonized and circular future. LCET targets include the use of alternative feedstocks as plastic waste, CO2, and biomass, which are highly related to Clariant, for example, through the company’s activities for utilizing agricultural waste to produce sunliquid® 2G ethanol.
Clariant is committed to the initiatives and strategies of the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem ETP), playing an active role on its board of directors and management team. SusChem ETP’s vision is a competitive and innovative Europe where sustainable chemistry and biotechnology provide solutions for future generations. SusChem ETP focuses on technology priorities across advanced materials, advanced processes, and digital technologies. It also addresses horizontal topics such as sustainability assessment innovation, the safe-by-design designation for chemicals and materials, and the enhancement of education and skills capacity in Europe.
Processes4Planet by the European Commission
Processes4Planet is a cross-sectoral public-private research and innovation partnership between industry and the European Commission. It brings together process industries (chemicals, refineries, steel, cement, minerals and ores, ceramics, nonferrous metals engineering, water, and paper), small and medium-sized enterprises, research and technology organizations, NGOs, regions, and others. Processes4Planet is consistent with the European Commission’s Industrial Strategy for Europe and the EU Green Deal. The partnership aims to develop and deploy the innovations needed for a profound transformation of the European process industries to make them circular and to achieve overall climate neutrality at the EU level by 2050, while at the same time enhancing their global competitiveness.
Circular Bio-Based Europe Joint Undertaking
In the context of the European Green Deal, the European economy needs to become climate neutral, more circular, and more sustainable while remaining competitive in the global market. A strong, resource-efficient, and competitive bio-based innovation ecosystem can decrease Europe’s dependency on and accelerate the substitution of nonrenewable fossil raw materials and mineral resources. The bio-based industries can help Europe become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by replacing nonrenewable fossil resources with waste and sustainably sourced biomass to produce industrial and consumer goods. This is possible while increasing the sustainability and circularity of production and consumption systems. Clariant is committed to fostering the transition to a sustainable bio-economy. One way to drive this journey is Clariant’s membership in the Bio-Based Industries Consortium (BIC) – with BIC representing the private party in a EUR 2 billion public-private partnership with the European Commission, called Circular Bio-Based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU). Clariant is not only a founding member of BIC, but also active on the BIC Board, the BIC Programming Working Group, and the BIC Programming Core Team. CBE JU is supporting research and innovation activities in the field of sustainable bio-based solutions under the umbrella of Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation program for 2021–2027. In 2022, a strong focus of BIC was the joint development of CBE JU strategic and programming documents. In a structured co-creative process between BIC, the European Commission, and the CBE JU Programming Office, calls for proposals were developed for publication in the Annual Work Programs.
Power-to-X initiatives convert green electricity into chemical energy sources in order to store electricity and use it as electricity-based fuels for mobility or as raw materials for the chemical industry. The »Power« in »Power-to-X« stands for electricity from renewable sources, while »X« represents the many purposes it is used for and the many forms it is transformed into.
Carbon2Chem is a large national initiative in Germany, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Together with partners from industry, institutes, and academia, Clariant develops technologies to reduce CO2 emissions from steel manufacturing following the Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) approach. Based on the very promising results achieved in the first Carbon2Chem phase, the ministry decided in 2020 to prolong its substantial funding until 2024 in order to develop the technology further and prepare for a large-scale technology rollout.
In 2022, the ongoing project work revealed stable and high-performance results for the developed gas purification technology – Clariant’s catalysts for gas conditioning and sorbents for impurity removal. Consequently, stable and productive methanol synthesis from CO2-rich steel off-gas was demonstrated by Clariant’s Megamax 800 industrial catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself.. Thanks to the substantial support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the consortium is preparing for some piloting projects at a scale of 4 000 tons/year of methanol production, which will start in 2023 at an industrial site with a large CO2 point source, such as steel, cement, or waste incineration. Another large national initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is Kopernikus. Together with Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies and several partners from academia, Clariant successfully addressed improvements of the Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHCs) technology. The technology aims to use LOHCs to safely store and transport renewable hydrogen to filling stations or the chemical industry. In 2022, the LOHC technology developed within Kopernikus was demonstrated at a newly inaugurated hydrogen fuel station close to Nuremberg/Erlangen together with the project partner Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies.
Clariant is also a partner in TransHyDE, a project funded with €135 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to develop catalysts and technology for green ammonia, i.e., ammonia produced with renewable energy. This substance is a potential substitute for conventionally produced ammonia and significantly reduces its carbon footprint. Due to its higher density, converting hydrogen into ammonia is an economically viable method for hydrogen transportation and release at the point of use. Clariant currently develops new and improved catalysts for hydrogen release. TransHyDE is one of three flagship hydrogen projects aiming to prepare Germany’s entry into the hydrogen economy. In 2022, the foundation for the development of highly active catalysts for the decomposition of ammonia was laid by Clariant and the academic partners. Moreover, the strong networking with the engineering partners and users will boost the development of an energy-efficient solution.
Collaborations with academics
In 2022, Clariant engaged in more than 65 scientific R&D partnerships. The well-funded catalysis research partnership with the prestigious ETH Zurich continues to be successful. The goal is to advance the understanding of catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself. properties from the nanoscale to the macroscale level. Together with the ETH Foundation, Clariant will sponsor – and collaborate in – fundamental chemical research projects, promoting talented ETH scientists and students.
»MuniCat« is a long-standing strategic partnership with the Technical University of Munich and has run since 2010. It is dedicated to the research, development, and application of innovative, pioneering catalysis technologies. One topic of this collaboration is the development of new manufacturing routes for high-quality plastic precursors that are independent of crude oil.
Three student research projects were selected in 2022 on the basis of their focus on using catalysis to drive forward sustainability in the chemical industry. The talent program is part of Clariant’s research cooperation with the prominent academic institution ETH Zurich. It acknowledges the outstanding research in the field of Catalysis of young talents and aims to support sustainable transformation in the chemical industry.
An award went to Andrea Blankenship, an MIT graduate and a doctoral student at ETH Zurich for her research into enabling the valorization of methane into desired liquid products that are important pathways for greener fuel and chemicals.
Ivan Surin, a graduate in chemical engineering and bioengineering and a doctoral candidate at ETH, received the award for his research into developing ammonia oxidation catalysts for sustainable nitrous oxide production.
Yuya Kakiuchi, a graduate in engineering sciences at Osaka University and a doctoral student at ETH Zurich, received an award for his study that is laying the foundation for further understanding olefin conversion processes, focusing on developing interplay between spectroscopy and computations to understand the role of the »catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself. ingredient.«
In 2022, Clariant also collaborated with companies and customers on new products development.
In a first and unique cross-industry collaboration for the Personal Care industry, »Design4Circularity,« Clariant, Siegwerk, Borealis, and Beiersdorf combined expertise to tackle the challenges of creating truly circular consumer packaging that is 100 % based on retrieved plastic packaging waste for cosmetics applications.
Furthermore, Clariant actively contributes to industrial clusters, consortia, and organizations to drive collaboration along the value chain. A holistic approach to solving complex and challenging situations is the preference. As an example, Clariant joined the Action for Sustainable Derivatives (ASD) in 2021. ASD is a collaborative initiative that brings together companies in the cosmetics, home and personal care, and oleochemicals industries to collectively tackle supply chain issues around palm oil and palm kernel oil derivatives.
Gold prize of the BSB Innovation Awards 2022 in the category »Environment« for natural active ingredient Rootness® Awake
Innovation Award for EARTH® technology (ICIS Innovation Awards, Best Process Innovation and Best Refining Technology, category Hydrocarbon Processing). Read more in the chapter Climate Protection.
German Romanian Business Award
Sustainability Award for EnviCat® N2O-S catalystCatalystA substance that lowers the activation energy, thereby increasing the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction itself. (American Chemistry Council/ACC Sustainability Leadership Award, category Environmental Protection)
Sustainable Beauty Award 2022 for »Design4Circularity« (category Sustainable Packaging)
Clariant was named a finalist for the prestigious German Sustainability Award for its holistic approach to drive sustainability forward in the category »transformation area climate«
DSM Sustainability Award, November 2022, for Clariant’s efforts to improve the recyclability of flame-retarded polyamides
The World Bioeconomy Forum’s Bio Act of the Year
The business prize AHK Award