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Innovation and New Technologies

OMV’s ReOil® proprietary thermal cracking technology was developed to meet the European Commission’s targets for the circular economy and to fulfill future packaging recycling quotas. The ReOil® plant at the Schwechat refinery, which has a capacity of 100 kg/h, has been recycling post-consumer and post-industrial plastics into synthetic crude oil using a pyrolysis process since 2018. This synthetic crude is then processed mainly into monomers and other hydrocarbons in the Schwechat refinery. The pilot plant has been running for a total of 18,000 hours since its commissioning, enabling improvements in the thermal cracking process and supporting the further scale-up of the ReOil® technology. OMV and Borealis are pursuing the clear ambition of becoming a leading player in chemical and mechanical recycling technologies. In November 2022, OMV has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wood, a global leader in consulting and engineering solutions in energy and materials markets, to enter into a mutually exclusive collaboration agreement for the commercial licensing of OMV’s proprietary ReOil® technology.

At Borealis, innovation is fundamental for contributing to the circularity of polyolefins and creating a more sustainable way of life. It also helps the Group improve its competitiveness and enhance its efficiency and sustainability – and therefore has a direct impact on people, the planet, and profit. Borealis is investing in R&D and new technologies in order to accelerate Value Creation through Innovation, particularly in the circular sphere.

Around 500 people are active in R&D at the Borealis Group. This figure includes scientists and researchers at the Innovation Headquarters in Linz (Austria) and the two innovation centers in Stenungsund and Porvoo.

Borealis continues to be among the top-ranked companies in Austria with respect to patent filings. In 2022, Borealis filed 128 new priority patent applications at the European Patent Office. This is just short of its previous record of 133 patent applications filed in 2021. As of January 2023, the Borealis Group holds around 11,500 individual patents or patent applications which are subsumed in approximately 1,450 patent families. The growing number of patents is proof positive of the Group’s dedication to Value Creation through Innovation.

The K 2022 trade fair held in Germany in October was the ideal stage for showcasing the many new products and material solutions generated through innovation and collaboration. Center stage was taken by the Borstar® Nextension technology, a step change for performance-based polyolefins. The unique combination of Borstar® technology and single-site Borstar® Nextension catalysts improves PP properties and produces a wider range of tailored polyolefins. Borstar® Nextension facilitates easier recycling because its use in multilayer applications allows for the replacement of multiple different materials with only one material; it thus encourages design for recycling by enabling monomaterial solutions. The single-site catalysts for this breakthrough technology are manufactured at a newly built Borealis plant in Porvoo (Finland). Two BorPure™ and a nonwoven grade based on Borstar® Nextension technology were also launched in October, each offering superior performance combined with circularity and material efficiency.

Grades from the Bornewables™ portfolio of premium circular polyolefins based on renewably sourced feedstocks are being used to develop an increasing number of novel applications, many of which are generated through value chain collaboration. To name just a few of the products made using grades from the Bornewables™ range and presented at the K 2022: the MAM Original Pure climate-neutral baby pacifier, a coffee-to-go cup in the Tupperware ECO+ product line, a reusable and fully recyclable lightweight plastic bottle co-developed by Borealis and Trexel, and a series of rigid food packaging applications based on Bornewables™ and Borcycle™ C co-developed by Borealis and ITC. In the Pipe sector, collaboration with Uponor resulted in the first PE-X pipes based on Bornewables™ feedstock, while co-operation with NUPI produced next-generation PP-RCT pipes based on Bornewables™.

Other circular highlights of 2022 include three fully recyclable, PE monomaterial pouch solutions; lightweight and ultra-lightweight reusable cups made of Borealis PP using the patented Bockatech EcoCore plastic foaming technology; a series of flexible packaging formats incorporating 50% PCR; and the world’s first shoe made from carbon emissions, On’s Cloudprime, containing high-performance, easy-to-process ethylene vinyl acetate foam supplied by Borealis. In June, the first Borcycle™ M jacketing compound containing up to 50% PCR was launched, thereby promoting enhanced circularity in the Wire & Cable sector. Finally, in the automotive sector, Borealis announced in October that collaboration with Tier One supplier Magna had produced the first and largest-ever all-thermoplastic tailgate for the new Volkswagen Multivan, a prime example of customer-centric innovation resulting in high-performance yet lighter-weight parts that help reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles.