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Schindler becomes world market leader with products

Hamburg-based firm producing plasticizers for tyres and new plant-based product

The production of car tyres is far more complex than generally imagined. At least 15 components each containing rubber modified with various mineral oil-based plasticizers are joined together for tyres. The Hansen & Rosenthal Group produces around 1 million tonnes of specialised products from crude oil at various locations, and a good 60 per cent go towards the automotive industry, of which 35 per cent are non-labelled plasticizers for a wide range of rubber applications. Jürgen Trimbach, Product Manager Process Oils and Head of Research & Development at H&R Ölwerke Schindler, commented: “We have developed a technology with which we can prevent a critical concentration of toxicologically relevant substances from being reached in these plasticizers.”

100th anniversary in 2019

The Hamburg-based company’s refinery is near the Köhlbrand Bridge. This year, the company and its 265 employees are celebrating its 100th anniversary and aiming for even higher goals. “For environmental reasons, we wanted to reduce the use of mineral oil in industrial applications,” said Trimbach. The chemical engineer and his team, led by Dr. Margret Haase-Held, have been researching a new, plant-based plasticizer since 2017. The name “pioneer TB 130 B” is based, among others, on a very specific type of sunflower oil that does not occur in the food industry. Compared to the standard product, around two thirds less CO2 is produced during the production phase. The plasticizer is also more energy-efficient and powerful in the use phase. “Tests have shown that the rolling resistance of car tyres can be reduced by up to 4 per cent compared with conventional plasticizers. It is important to know that tyres account for around 25 per cent of a car’s fuel consumption,” said Trimbach. He added: “The abrasion of truck tyres has been reduced by up to 10 per cent.”

Funded by IFB

The Investitions- und Förderbank (IFB) Hamburg has granted EUR 110,000 from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy’s PROFI Environment Promotion Programme as the project exemplifies combined innovative strength and ecological sustainability. “Research is very expensive. The support was extremely helpful,” said Trimbach. Sales of the pioneer TB 130 B are already going well. However, the market is subject to fierce competition from conventional plasticizers based on mineral oil, the price of which is linked to that of oil. The more expensive the crude oil, the better the sales’ prospects of the more environment-friendly, alternative product. Trimbach remarked: “Our goal is a green refinery. We have been able to build up a great deal of know-how and have gained important insights in our research, which are also incorporated into other products. We are working intensively on these.”

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About IFB Hamburg

The Hamburgische Investitions- und Förderbank (IFB Hamburg) is the central development institute of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and promotes housing, commerce, environment and innovation. Innovative start-ups as well as research and development projects by existing companies receive support from IFB and its wholly-owned subsidiary IFB Innovationsstarter GmbH. Projects in Hamburg can be supported with grants, equity capital and loans. Meanwhile, IFB Hamburg caters to the entire business cycle and promotes innovative companies. Hamburg’s development bank is also highly involved in the InnovationsAllianz Hamburg and offers expertise on EU development topics.

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