A team of researchers at BASF, the world’s leading chemical company, received the “Sandmeyer Award 2011 – sponsored by KPMG” on February 10 in Zurich. Professor E. Peter Kündig, President of SCS, explained their choice by saying, “The Swiss Chemical Society is thus honoring a team that has used new types of radical initiators to develop an extremely innovative technology in the area of controlled polymerization and specialty polymers.”
The seven-member team of researchers chosen to receive the award is made up of Clemens Auschra, Ralf Knischka, Andreas Kramer, Andreas Mühlebach, Peter Nesvadba, Frank Pirrung and Michael Roth. The prize winners collaborated on their discoveries at the research facilities of BASF Schweiz AG in Basel, the world’s second-largest BASF research center.
Norbert Wagner, head of the BASF Research Center Basel, was thrilled: “Receiving this prestigious award is a great honor. It fills us with pride, especially in light of the fact that the other candidates included leading companies from the pharmaceutical and chemical industries which were narrowed down based on a detailed evaluation by recognized specialists from the field.”
Great significance for plastics industry – and beyond
Polymerization processes are crucial in industry. Radical polymerization, a process currently used to produce some 50 percent of all commercial polymers, is particularly important. However until just a few years ago, this polymerization method could not be steered accurately enough to create products with precisely defined structures and specific characteristics. “Within a short period of time, this research team from Basel succeeded in developing a new technology with industrial applications. This achievement will send a signal that reaches far beyond the boundaries of the chemical industry to highlight Switzerland’s attractiveness as a center of research,” explains Erik Willems, Partner and Sector Coordinator Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals at KPMG Switzerland.
The new technology makes it possible to develop new tailor-made product classes and devise efficient manufacturing processes for larger volumes. As polymer specialties, the products manufactured based on this new technology set new standards in the coatings and plastics industry for applications such as dispersing additives for pigments in the coatings industry. Yet the technology can also be used in a variety of different areas of application such as electronics materials, lubricants and technical adhesives. The team’s secondary discovery, new molecules called radical initiators which control the polymerization process, will open the doors to further innovations in plastics.
The “Sandmeyer Award – sponsored by KPMG” is awarded each year by SCS to a person or group for outstanding work in industrial or applied chemistry. The work must be completed in Switzerland or with the involvement of a Swiss national. The 2011 prize was awarded yesterday at the 2011 SCS Spring Meeting on the Irchel Campus of the University of Zurich.
Zurich, February 11, 2011
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