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Research and Development

Research and Development
             
€ million Q3 2012 Q3 2013 Change % 9M 2012 9M 2013 Change %
             
Research and development expenses 49 43 (12.2) 147 134 (8.8)
in % of sales 2.3% 2.1%   2.1% 2.1%  

Our systematic investment in research and development has continued in 2013. Existing products and processes are being refined and optimized with a short- to medium-term time horizon. The Innovation & Technology Group Function, in particular, initiates medium- to long-term research projects to ensure the company’s success in future growth areas and thus safeguard its viability going forward. In this connection two new alliances were formed with renowned research institutes in China.

Third-quarter research and development expenses amounted to €43 million, equivalent to 2.1% of sales revenues. These functional costs were 12.2% below the level of the prior-year quarter. Research and development expenses for the period January  to September 2013 declined by 8.8% against the first nine months of last year. Our research programs are aligned to the major global megatrends that are important to us: mobility, urbanization, agriculture and water. As explained in the Annual Report 2012, our goal is to strengthen our organic growth by enhancing our products and processes through customer- and market-oriented innovations.

Innovations in the Performance Polymers segment, which focuses on the mobility trend, included the development of two new grades of neodymium-catalyzed polybutadiene rubber. These new rubber grades have high molecular weights, which are essential for the production of tires with particularly low rolling resistance. Thanks to a new polymer chain modification technology used by LANXESS, these rubber grades have properties that make them considerably easier to process. In addition, we succeeded in producing bio-based polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), a component of our high-tech plastic Pocan, at our world-scale facility in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany. Here, sugar – a renewable feedstock – was converted into the raw material butanediol using a strategic partner’s commercially proven process. This marks an important step forward in our efforts to offer bio-based versions of Pocan in the future and underscores our position as one of the leading specialty chemicals companies enabling “Green Mobility.”

The Saltigo business unit, which is assigned to the Advanced Intermediates segment, launched the development of new applications for the insect repellent Saltidin, which can be added to sunscreens or impregnated into textiles.

We also drove forward our research and development activities in the Performance Chemicals segment in areas such as water treatment. Here we succeeded in developing ion exchange resins with a small bead radius that raise the efficiency of certain membrane-based electrolytic water treatment technologies, thereby extending the service life of both the resin and the membranes. This, in turn, lowers operating costs because less regenerating agent is needed and less wastewater is produced. We are also introducing a new technology and service concept for beamhouse operations in the area of leather processing. The newly developed products for the beamhouse ensure significantly better process design, particularly from an ecological point of view, partly by reducing the amount of waste.

At the end of the third quarter of 2013, LANXESS employed 911 people in research and development, compared to 843 as of December 31, 2012. This increase is partly attributable to an expansion of activities in the areas covered by the central research and development units.

For more information, readers are referred to the “Research and development” and “Opportunity report” sections of the Annual Report 2012, respectively, including the descriptions of global megatrends.

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