Our unique Verbund concept is one of BASF’s greatest strengths. The driving principle of the Verbund concept is to add value through the efficient use of resources. At our Verbund sites, production plants, energy and material flows, logistics, and site infrastructure are all integrated. BASF currently operates six Verbund sites worldwide: two in Europe, two in North America and two in Asia.
The Verbund system creates efficient value chains that extend from basic chemicals all the way to consumer products. In this system, chemical processes make use of energy more efficiently, achieve higher product yields and conserve resources. By-products of one process are used as starting materials for another process. We thus save on raw materials and energy, minimize emissions, cut logistics costs and realize synergies. BASF operates an additional 361 production plants worldwide, but the six Verbund sites produce more than 50% of our volumes. This is a testament to the importance and strength of the Verbund concept within BASF.
The Verbund creates opportunities to reduce emissions, waste and resource consumption. Around half of the Verbund advantages stem from wastewater, steam and electricity savings compared to BASF’s non-Verbund sites as well as compared to publicly available data on industry cost averages. The remaining 50% of the savings are achieved in logistics and material handling due to our chemical integration (using pipelines instead of filling and transporting via truck/railway/ship). These benefits make the Verbund sites our most efficient sites.
Gas and steam turbines in combined heat and power plants enable us to fulfill more than 70% of the electricity demand of the BASF Group. Compared with separate methods of generating steam and electricity, we saved 12.4 million MWh of fossil fuels and prevented 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2019. In 2019, internally generated power in the BASF Group had a carbon footprint of around 0.26 metric tons of CO2 per MWh of electricity and was below the national grid factor at most BASF Group locations. The figure for purchased electricity in 2019 was around 0.46 metric tons of CO2 per MWh (market-based approach).
The use of waste heat is another important component of our energy efficiency strategy: Excess heat from one plant’s production process is used as energy in other plants. In this way, the Verbund saved us around 19.2 million MWh in 2019, which translates to 3.9 million metric tons less CO2 released into the environment. With combined power and steam generation as well as our optimized Energy Verbund, we were thus able to prevent a total of 6.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2019.
The Verbund goes beyond production. It has several additional dimensions that all contribute across the businesses to strengthen our portfolio and to create value. By managing our value chains, we ensure the competitive and flexible supply of key raw materials and products to all segments.
We have strong technological competence in production processes but also in research, product development and our customers’ applications. This know-how is available to all segments through our technology platforms.
We are building the Digital Verbund to harvest the benefits from the vast amount of data generated across BASF. Using and connecting this data intelligently, we can increase the efficiency of our processes. We are developing the necessary infrastructure, tools, best practices and rules to evolve into a data-driven company.
By offering the combined expertise of each of our businesses, we aim to create an unrivaled customer experience. Customers should think of BASF first when they seek a chemistry-related solution to a specific problem.
Developing and using chemical catalysts that vastly speed up chemical reactions has been a core competence of BASF since the realization of the first large-scale synthesis of ammonia in 1913. Today, catalysis is employed in almost every value chain at BASF. Catalysts are required to make more than 90% of our products in an efficient and sustainable way.
BASF is the global leader in catalyst production for chemical, automotive and refinery applications. The know-how to develop, manufacture and employ catalysts for all these different applications is bundled in one research platform, creating significant synergies across the company. For example, the same principles applied for the destruction of toxic compounds, such as nitrous oxides, with mobile emissions catalysts can be used in the cleanup of industrial off-gases from upstream plants.
In the future, due to an increasing focus on carbon emissions and waste recycling, even more robust catalysts will be needed to handle the impurities found in, for instance, bio-based raw materials and plastic waste. With our broad experience across many chemical value chains, BASF’s catalyst R&D is well equipped to tackle these challenges.
Plastic waste is a major problem, especially for packaging applications. One way to solve this problem is to develop biodegradable polymers. This means that microorganisms metabolize the polymers to energy, water, biomass and CO2.
BASF is a leader in understanding biodegradability on a scientific level, and we have the capabilities to model biodegradation. We translate this knowledge into direct business success. We sell biodegradable plastics under the ecoflex®/ecovio® brand. These products are used in packaging materials as well as in mulch films for farming. We leverage our expertise further, developing biodegradable materials and formulations for other applications.
Despite its complexity, the Production Verbund can respond flexibly to fluctuating demand and changing markets. The Verbund Simulator is a proprietary digital tool that helps us optimize the Verbund. Within the Verbund, each business unit must create value for BASF. Therefore, we apply an internal market-based transfer pricing system that avoids cross-subsidization and provides transparency as we actively manage and optimize our value chains.