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BASF Designing a Sustainable Future


Innovative new materials are one of the keys to sustainability. Their tailor-made profiles of properties make it possible to cut down on the use of resources and energy in buildings. That makes them a pivotal factor in the growing circular economy, which is a priority issue for the STEP2 unit in the modular innovation building NEST of the two research institutes Empa and Eawag  in Dübendorf (CH). BASF is working on the new unit at NEST as a primary partner in industry.


The two-story module is being built on NEST's uppermost platform. The unit will then be used as an innovation workshop where research is carried out into solutions to problems relating to the circular economy, digital and industrial fabrication, building envelopes and energy systems. With this unit, BASF is aiming to shape the future of how we live and gain insights into the impact that the built environment has on people. Work is under way on innovations relating to air quality, light, interior furnishings, health and many other aspects. 


The STEP2 unit is the first innovation module at NEST to be majority-operated by industrial partners and to have the activities of the companies involved clearly visible. BASF is bringing its in-depth expertise to bear in many material fields. This includes expert knowledge of structural and functional materials, bio-based and biodegradable products, dispersions, additives, coatings and composites, as well as hybrids and multimaterials. This knowledge is incorporated into the development of new material systems, formulations and applications alongside cooperation partners. 

BASF intends to test a wide variety of innovations through the STEP2 unit. These include high-performance insulation for greater energy efficiency, new types of materials for manufacturing three-dimensionally molded fiberboard and microstructured optical films that are revolutionizing daylighting in buildings. In addition, there are materials for 3D printing applications, such as photopolymers, polymer powders and plastic filaments.


Some of the innovations and new systems created at NEST are to be marketed by BASF or together with partners. For the new systems, BASF supplies not only materials but also semi-finished products and is involved in the development of components, modules, software and data processing.