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On sustainable development - on fingers  #12(106), 2011

On November 24th the Bayer MaterialScience AG has held in Copenhagen, Denmark on the site of company’s subsidiary BMS Norden a round table on “Sustainable Development” for the journalists of trade publications of the Scandinavian region

I must say that normally used Russian clause “stable development” as an ingrained counterpart of English “sustainable development” cannot be treated as perfect translation and is caused by usual and intrinsic “exact translation” problem. Besides, the terms “stable” and “development” are somehow contradictious in sense.

 “Sustainable” literally implies “viable”, “life-supporting”. “Development” in Russian, besides just pure development (“progress”) implies also “disclosure”, “appearance”. The term “sustainable development”, that can be treated in Russian as “life-supporting appearances”, was introduced by the UN in 1987 to designate such development, under which “satisfying the needs of the present time should not undermine possibilities of future generations to meet their own needs.” Transferring this requirement into practical life, we’re facing the necessity to reconsider our barbaric attitude towards resources consumption, reduce production waste together with the one of vital activity to a possible minimum, provide the new rational approach to construction and arrangement of housing – that’s just a small list of goals for the nearest future, on accomplishment of which depends the very possibility of a future for the next generations to come.

Leaving to Copenhagen on invitation of the Russian representation of Bayer MaterialScience, I was preparing myself to a thoughtful talk on though actual but abstruse subject, to thick folder with intelligent, but standard press releases. But Bayer MaterialScience, as always, surprised ...

Patrick Thomas, the head of Bayer MaterialScience AG (I’ve never seen the more democratic head of the global concern), simply sat down with reporters at a small table, and without any preprepared speeches and theorizing started to explain “just on fingers” what is the sustainable development. On the fingers - literally.

The first things that appeared in hands of Patrick Thomas were the green CO2 letters made of soft polyurethane foam. The shape of the exhibit was definitely not accidental but symbolized the conversion of carbon dioxide into polymeric material. The innovative project of Bayer MaterialScience bears nearly Hollywood name - Dream Production, and actually does offer to embody the unrealizable dream of before: to replace in polymers production of the part of oil, which deficiency is constantly growing – exhaustible resource, by presented in abundance carbon dioxide, and hence accomplish the revolutionary transition from fossil raw materials to alternative resources. That’s quite possible because CO2, like oil, contains elemental carbon – a key building “brick” for plastics production. The new material, polyester-polycarbone polyol, is one of the two components used in manufacturing of the high quality polyurethane plastic.

It is assumed that the Dream Production will introduce though limited but such long-awaited contribution to climate protection. The amount of oil necessary for its power-consuming conversion into source chemical substances, will be reduced - what will cause reduction of CO2 emissions. Moreover, generated CO2 is not simply released to atmosphere or placed underground, which requires considerable efforts and cost – instead the gas is effectively used.

In February 2011, in Leverkusen, the first pilot facility was opened for chemical processing of carbon dioxide produced in the energy sector. Currently, Bayer MaterialScience carries out rigorous testing of the properties of polyurethanes derived from CO2, and plans to bring the new products to market in 2015.

How many new BMS projects are just starting out their, I’m sure, glorious life! Patrick Thomas told about antishake-suits of innovative plastics that are created for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. About EVBox charging stations for electric vehicles, made of a mixture of PC + ABS and meeting the highest standards on fire safety and lean production. Thomas gave reporters to hold the bolts from aluminum, filled with carbon Nanotubes ®: such fastener is lightened by 30 percent as compared with similar made of steel, but not worse in strength.

A special pride of BMS is a partnership in the Solar Impulse project. Since 2010 pilots, scientists and technologists are working on invention of an aircraft, capable to fly around the world being feeded solely by solar energy. Due to ideas of Bayer MaterialScience on construction lightening and development of efficient energy carriers, the prototype of an aircraft with a wingspan like large airliner has (63,4 meters) but with a weight not exceeding the one of a medium-sized car (1,6 tons), has already made the first successful flights. Today the researchers’ aim is to create till 2014 the second manned model, which will fulfill the round-the-world flight in five steps. “Solar Impulse is the point, - noted Patrick Thomas, - which might become a turning one for Bayer MaterialScience, as far as the company can implement in this project the idea which is enshrined in our motto: “Science for better life”. The essence of the Solar Impulse project is not only the use of “more pure” energy, but in the use of “absolutely pure” one. Through the use of innovative materials we can favour solutions of such mankind problems, as growth of population or growth of mobility.” The technologies developed for Solar Impulse can be transferred to other areas of everyday life, like power efficiency of computers, refrigerators, etc.

Everybody knows the program of Bayer MaterialScience that deals with the problems of ecological building, namely EcoCommercial Building. It manifests the necessity in construction of energy-efficient buildings – it is well known that heating of houses and buildings consumes 40 percent of the world’s produced energy. How does this program really work? In response Patrick Thomas started talking about the harsh Nordic climate and double-glass panes. It is proved that the bulk of heat loss occurs just due to imperfections in the construction of window frames. The Danish manufacturer of window profiles using the BMS know-how created under the brand futura+ an amazing double-glass pane from aluminum and reinforced by fiberglass polyurethane, that has already passed the most rigorous Scandinavian tests on hest saving factors. Isn’t it an ides for Russia, where for half the population winter lasts for almost half a year?

Journalists were presented with a fragment of interesting brick masonry of 40 cm thickness: the outer wall surfaces - brick layers, the inner space is filled with polyurethane foam. Light but superstable (confirmed by tests: strength - as a double brick wall) construction retains heat twice longer than conventional wall of the same thickness! Construction novelty is not yet produced in industrial scale, but I believe it will become soon a hit of the market.

Finally Thomas demonstrated electric elements for devices: polymer plates from BMS materials in electronic chips allow to transfer striking tactile sensations of vibration and movement. Me personally played a simplest game “pen ball into hole” on quite ordinary iPhone – and I felt, felt how the ball rolls around in my hands! But it was just and only an image! By the way, here - - you will find more information. Behind seemingly entertaining idea there stands a genuine discovery, that will overthrew many our conceptions about technology possibilities in the nearest future. Just think for a while about scanners for ultrasonic investigations...

Saying goodbye to amazingly opened Patrick Thomas and friendly team of Bayer
MaterialScience Norden,  I thought that “sustainable development” (or “life-sustaining appearances”, if you want) – is a system of coordinates, in which one have to live and, abobe all, can live in. ‘Cause we all want to live better. Live wanted.

Anna Vilens

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