Research & Development review
The main focus of Kemira’s R&D in 2012 was to continue product portfolio renewal and new product launches within the fields of oil and gas and other solutions for industrial water quality and quantity management.
Kemira’s research and development is a critical enabler for organic growth and further differentiation. In 2012, Kemira was able to create EUR 106 million of revenues from new products and applications. New product launches during the year included antiscalants, friction reducers and biocides, which all allow more efficient usage of water and energy. These newly launched products contribute both to the efficiency and sustainability of Kemira’s customers’ processes as well as to the improved profitability.
The Fit for Growth program has seen restructuring in the organization to allow better collaboration between segments and R&D. The project portfolio has been reviewed, and further resources allocated to those innovations with the most potential. This restructuring has also emphasized each research center’s role both in terms of local responsibility to support the regional business and also global responsibility in terms of the wider network, with key focus areas identified for each center.
One of Kemira’s R&D highlights in 2012 included the opening of a laboratory in Alberta, Canada, specializing in oil and gas applications. This facility is located close to the University of Alberta for collaboration purposes, but is also near Kemira’s customers, which helps to facilitate testing of new products in customer applications.
SWEET, Kemira’s four-year R&D program begun in 2010, is progressing well, with most of its projects in the development phase and moving towards scale-up. Many of these will achieve completion by the end of 2013 or mid-2014. Ongoing SWEET projects, including new chemistries for oil & gas, shale gas, bioethanol and biomass, are now running at all of Kemira’s R&D centers located in Espoo, Atlanta, Shanghai and Sao Paulo, Kemira’s most recent addition to the network.
A good example of the SWEET program’s results is the strength chemistry Kemira has launched for tissue and board applications. The purpose is to help customers to make savings in terms of raw materials but also achieve better strengths with a lower material weight; the final product enables cost and energy savings right down the supply chain.
During 2012, piloting projects attached to the SWEET program included a membrane pilot in India and a desalination pilot in China. In addition, Kemira has been investing in new movable desalination pilots, which can be transported to a site adjacent to a customer’s plant and tested under real working conditions with the customer’s processes and applications. Eight of these facilities are currently active, spread across all regions.
Innovative and sustainable
Kemira’s commitment to sustainability in terms of R&D is visible in two ways: the company’s approach to raw materials and efficiency in respect to the chemicals it produces, and the way it enables customers to improve water and energy efficiency in their respective processes. Cases of the latter include biomass solutions for sludge dewatering, allowing sludge to be used for energy production. With population increasing rapidly in Asia, such applications will become more and more important, and will be developed further to permit greater process efficiency and expanded scope – incorporating nutrient recovery, for example.
A sustainability target has been defined for Kemira’s New Product Development in 2012, and in the future sustainability measurement will be considered a necessary component of all new products. Kemira's New Product Development process involves not just R&D but also sales, product management, manufacturing, sourcing and marketing. This has been a component of the SWEET program since its launch, but is continuously improving to include and involve more perspectives and contributions. This also encompasses external partners, and Kemira’s collaboration with customers, research institutes, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The road ahead
Kemira’s main goal in terms of R&D is to ensure that its product portfolio allows significant differentiation from the competition. This will be achieved by close collaboration across the board, generating new ideas from the markets, from emerging technologies, and from research partners.
In the short-term future, Kemira aims to strengthen its R&D centers’ competencies, developing them further to form their responsibility areas into unique company strengths. Kemira has a strong IP portfolio with 330 patent families and 1,350 patents. The IP portfolio has been systematically renewed (currently at around 40% completion) and this work will continue in 2013.