Approximately 1.5 billion cars will be on the road worldwide by 2025. This number is daunting, considering the world is already facing climate change, limited fossil fuels, air pollution and other environmental challenges. The industry must continue to drive more sustainable automotive solutions to further protect our environment.
In addition to sustainability challenges, automakers face shifting weight requirements, emissions regulations, evolving mobility trends and more. Sustainability is a core pillar of BASF, and we know we can’t make mobility cleaner on our own. That’s why we’re working alongside customers and the full automotive supply chain to create solutions that both help automakers meet these performance requirements, and are beneficial to the environment.
The catalytic converter controls harmful emissions from gasoline engine exhausts, but not all are created equally. BASF’s Three-Way Conversion (TWC) catalyst features a patented construction of platinum, palladium and rhodium that enables oxidation of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). TWC catalysts have a lower light-off temperature, offer high temperature stability, minimizes hydrogen sulfide emissions without using nickel and is resistant to lead.
Combining the functionality of a TWC catalyst with a filter, BASF’s Four-Way Conversion (FWC) catalyst technology removes four pollutants from gasoline engine exhaust with a single component. In addition to HC, CO and NOx, the FWC catalyst removes particulate matter (PM) from gasoline engines to ensure vehicle emissions that meet the upcoming Euro 6 and US Tier 3 regulations.
BASF also recycles precious metals from old ceramic catalytic converters and reuses the materials to manufacture new autocatalysts. Catalysts are an important solution for reducing emissions and improving air quality, and it adds another layer of sustainability when new generation automotive catalysts are made with recycled resources.
PremAir®, BASF’s patented catalyst coating, is another solution that contributes to improved air quality. As air passes over a vehicle’s coated radiator, PremAir converts harmful ground level ozone, a major component of smog, into oxygen. PremAir is also a Direct Ozone Reduction (DOR) technology, which allows automotive OEMs to manage fleet average emissions requirements and earn full credit for California LEV III and U.S. Tier 3 regulations.
Battery electric vehicles have the benefit of zero emission mobility, and more automakers are embracing electrification to help solve today’s climate and energy challenges. BASF is a leading advanced cathode active materials supplier for lithium-ion batteries, the power source for electric vehicles. Advanced cathode active materials determine the efficiency, reliability, cost, durability and size of the battery. Consumers want electric vehicles with longer range, shorter charging times and at a reasonable cost, and the materials BASF is developing for lithium-ion batteries will help overcome these barriers to mass EV adoption. By also investing in the research and development of high-performance battery materials and partnering with industry experts to improve battery formulas, BASF is helping to power e-mobility forward.
For example, BASF developed the Licity® anode binder series for lithium-ion battery manufacturing. Licity binders improve battery performance by enabling higher capacity, increasing the charge cycles and reducing charging times. In addition, the binders have high compatibility with a range of active materials, enhance performance in low temperature environments, adhere to collector foil and are customizable. Licity binders are also designed with very low VOC content and can be sustainably produced according to BASF’s biomass balance approach, saving CO2 and reducing emissions.
BASF is committed to building a responsible and sustainable global battery material supply chain. Producing cathode active materials involves minerals like cobalt, lithium, nickel, aluminum and manganese, and BASF supports material sourcing that protects the environment, health and safety, and human rights. To produce batteries with high social and environmental standards, BASF is minimizing the carbon footprint along the supply chain, using responsibly produced recycled raw materials in the battery market and maintaining close proximity to customers to reduce energy used during transportation.
In addition to emissions reductions and e-mobility advancements, lightweighting is another key sustainability strategy. To help reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy, more automakers are replacing traditional metal parts with engineered plastic materials. Solutions like BASF’s Ultramid® polyamides provide the strength and stiffness automotive applications need and reduce overall vehicle weight, all without impacting performance.
Resin-reinforced natural fibers also offer sustainable and lightweight advantages to the automotive industry. Acrodur is BASF’s innovative zero-emission thermoset technology. Acrodur is a water-based, formaldehyde-free, cross-linking resin that only generates water as a byproduct during the curing process. Contoura is another light weight, natural composite that combines Acrodur resin with natural, recycled or synthetic fibers to produce a pre-preg composite. These solutions help achieve weight reduction in automotive parts, like roof components or door panels, while remaining eco-friendly.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna is an example of how BASF has helped OEMs achieve lightweighting success. For this new model, Toyota wanted the third row seat to be lighter, cost competitive and exceed performance criteria. Using BASF’s Ultramid® and ULTRASIM® solutions, Toyota was able to design a seat that is 30% lighter with a 15% cost savings compared to the previous model. And, in recognition of Toyota’s lightweighting achievement that was supported by BASF’s material and design expertise, Altair Engineering awarded the 2021 Sienna with the Altair Enlighten Award.
Achieving sustainability in the automotive industry requires collaboration across the full supply chain, and BASF is working to ensure our products, solutions and technologies add value to our partners and society. General Motors, for example, has recognized BASF as a Supplier of the Year for a 15th time, a result of the innovative support we’ve provided and strong partnership we’ve built.
This year, BASF was also honored with GM’s Overdrive Award for our collaboration on sustainable construction of roofing and flooring projects at GM’s Spring Hill and Flint assembly plants. While these projects were outside of our traditional automotive portfolio, BASF was able to provide comprehensive customer support and still contribute to a smaller carbon footprint, less landfill waste, and energy and water savings.