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Wednesday, 11 December 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies

Lanxess planning AI-assisted formulation development for Urethane Systems

Monday, 25 November 2019

Lanxess is broadening its use of artificial intelligence (AI) in product development. The specialty chemicals company has launched a project aimed at expanding its range of prepolymers.

Lanxess develops numerous prepolymers for a wide range of polyurethane applications, such as star wheels for material separation and material transport. The use of artificial intelligence is expected to speed up the process of developing custom-made formulations for prepolymers. Tests are currently being conducted at the research and development laboratory in Naugatuck, U.S. Source: Lanxess
Lanxess develops numerous prepolymers for a wide range of polyurethane applications, such as star wheels for material separation and material trans...

The Urethane Systems business unit is using the potential of AI and has brought materials AI company Citrine Informatics on board as a project partner. In an initial project phase, Lanxess enlarged its database of prepolymer-based formulations. Data specialists and process experts used the Citrine Platform for artificial intelligence to add further data points to the company's formulation database. This involved linking existing empirical measurement data with the knowledge of the process experts and a chemistry-aware algorithm to calculate additional measurement values. This meant that only a few real-life measurements were required to verify the figures determined with AI.

AI-assisted formulation design

In a next step, data and process experts will check how reliably optimal formulations can be predicted with the aid of AI to meet customer-specific requirements for product characteristics. "If the next tests are successful, we will be able to fulfill customer requests even more quickly and effectively. Our existing knowledge of formulations shall be enhanced by AI-assisted formulation design – in other words, systems that are not yet part of our portfolio but for which artificial intelligence will enable us to know instantly whether we can manufacture them and how,” says Markus Eckert, head of the Urethane Systems business unit.

AI complements domain knowledge

So far, chemists have largely had to rely on their specialist expertise and years of experience when researching new formulations with defined product characteristics such as hardness, tensile strength and viscosity. AI is expected to become an important tool to help them broaden their knowledge and significantly reduce the amount of tests required.

Lanxess already has some experience in using AI. In a pilot project with Citrine Informatics, the specialty chemicals company is using AI to optimize glass fibers as a way of further enhancing the properties of high-performance plastics. It is anticipated that AI will cut development times for the necessary formulations by more than half. Customers will receive even better, tailor-made products within shorter time frames.

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