Research into Emerging Fields

WACKER conducts research into emerging fields, such as white biotechnology, energy and photovoltaics.

White biotechnology employs microorganisms to produce raw materials, fine chemicals and active ingredients. Based on renewable substances, it is carbon neutral and often does not depend on petroleum. White biotechnology thus plays a key role in protecting the climate and conserving resources.

Biotechnology is an innovation driver in medicine and today’s life sciences. Due to demographic change, these research fields are constantly gaining in importance. Biotech advances make it possible to maintain high-quality and cost-effective medical supplies. Biotech processes are vital to the production of new active ingredients. One such process is WACKER’s ESETEC® secretion system, which uses a modified bacterial strain to produce pharmaceutical proteins with unprecedented purity and in previously unachievable quantities.

In collaboration with MorphoSys AG, we use ESETEC® to produce a novel class of antibody fragments as actives for therapeutic and diagnostic use. MorphoSys and WACKER continued to intensify their cooperation in 2008. The ESETEC® technique has also succeeded in producing Anticalins® – proteins that act like antibodies. These Anticalins® are being developed by Munich-based Pieris AG for use in cancer treatment.

Today, organic feedstocks are mainly derived from petroleum. Finite oil supplies and rising oil prices make it necessary to look for alternative raw materials. WACKER’s Consortium für elektrochemische Industrie has started to focus on ways of producing ethylene and acetic acid economically from renewable resources (bioethanol and biomass). In this field, WACKER collaborates closely with partners at universities and research institutes. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports such projects as part of its BioIndustrie 2021 program. Ethylene and acetic acid are precursors of vinyl acetate. This liquid is of strategic importance for WACKER, as it is processed by our WACKER POLYMERS division to make dispersible polymer powders and polymeric binders.

Energy will gain in importance in the years to come. That is why we are working to further develop two trailblazing technologies for converting and storing energy: fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries. Future electric cars would not be possible without these two technologies.

We are strengthening our technology leadership as a producer of solar-grade polysilicon. Our aim is not only to improve our silicon deposition process, but to enhance WACKER’s unique, closed production loop – which ranges from silicon metal through hyperpure solar and electronics-grade silicon, to silanes, silicones and pyrogenic silica.