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In dialogue with Nobel laureates

July 12, 2017

Once every year, around 30 Nobel Laureates convene at Lindau to meet undergraduates, PhD students, and post-doc researchers in an exchange format that is worldwide unique. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings bring together leading scientists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines. This year’s 67th Nobel Laureate Meeting took place end of June and was dedicated to chemistry.

The participants at BASF’s World Café during the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting. Photo: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

BASF invited selected junior scientist and Nobel laureates to a “World Café” focusing on the question “Circular Economy – how do we make it happen?” The special format aims at combining the scientists’ creativity with the Nobel laureates’ visions and BASF’s mission to develop concrete solutions.

In various rounds the 100 participants from science and research, the Nobel Laureates Profs. Jean-Marie Lehn, Robert Huber and Ei-ichi Negishi as well as BASF experts from science and strategy discussed on how the circular economy concept can be implemented.

For BASF, circular economy is much more than waste management. The aim is to close cycles and use products and resources in the best way possible across the entire value chain. Moving away from the linear “take-make-dispose” to a more circular approach in production and consumption could be the biggest economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution.

Professor Robert Hubert in discussion with students. Photo: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

The participants shared various ideas about possible contributions coming from the world of chemistry. Some examples included innovative ways to make chemical reactions more energy-efficient, recycling more user-friendly, as well as innovations in catalysis research or ideas on how to change the general perception of waste as being a valuable resource.

“The participants brought various exciting perspectives from a scientific context”, said Dr. Andreas Kicherer, Director Sustainability Strategy at BASF, who together with other BASF experts shared insights on how BASF already makes use of the circular economy concept.

Dr. Thomas Weber, Head of Innovation Management at BASF, who hosted the event, was convinced that the chemical industry and its innovations can lead the way in this change. “BASF has incorporated the idea of a circular economy from its very beginning in 1865. The BASF-Verbund is designed for efficient use of energy and resources. The excess heat produced in one production facility can be re-used as energy in other plants. Offgas or reaction by-products from one plant work as raw material for another – reducing emissions and waste, while conserving resources.”