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Raw materials & technologies

"The moment of truth is coming closer"

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Dr Hubert Motzet, Chairman of the Chemistry of Construction Materials Division in the German Chemical Society (GDCh Bauchemie), gives a realistic view of how to eliminate working by trial and error in product development. In this interview, he also reveals his admiration for modern superplasticisers.

<emphasize>&quot;Superplasticisers are the most revolutionary of all product classes for the construction chemistry&quot;</emphasize>

Source: Deutsche Bauchemie
"Superplasticisers are the most revolutionary of all product classes for the construction chemistry" Source: Deut...

EUROPEAN COATINGS JOURNAL, Sonja Specks: Why was sustainability once again one of your main topics at the conference this year?

Dr Hubert Motzet, Chairman of of the Chemistry of Construction Materials Division in the German Chemical Society (GDCh Bauchemie): Sustainability was chosen as our main focus topic four years ago. At that time –and still we, as a scientific association wanted do objectivise the discussion, which is often characterized by marketing statements. As a small group, we can only instigate discussions on the topic; and just dictate the direction they take in a very limited scope.

We realised this with a regular thematization at annual meetings with the presentations on that topic. But in my opinion to focus on other topics in the future would suit this division well.

Where do you think the key areas will be in the next ten years?

I can’t wait to see how analytical methods and computer-aided simulations and modelling will evolve over the next ten years. We are not yet at the commercial production stage, but that will come. Even now, analytical methods can penetrate almost down as far as the atomic level. And the computers will then take over, modelling structures and reaction mechanisms and forcasting reactions on a microscopic scale.

The first overlaps are beginning to happen, and that is when the moment of truth is coming closer. When it arrives, it’ll be possible to target our research work properly – and to rely less on trial and error in product development.

Sustainability aside, superplasticisers are often held up as a model class of products. We saw that in this year’s presentations and in the award for Dr. Hirata’s work in this area. How likely are they to become the raw materials for the construction chemicals of the future?

Superplasticisers are the most revolutionary of all product classes for the construction chemistry – in the past, now and into the future. Here, too, it was basic research that opened up the current application parameters.

As a result of it, we are now in a position to exploit the full range of acrylate and carboxylate chemistry, adapting them as necessary to specific needs and cost requirements. The old types of superplasticiser that dominated the market 10-20 years ago have virtually all disappeared.

Will there be another international German Chemical Society conference?

This year’s conference was a pilot event. But I suspect there’ll be another international conference in three years’ time. As a final word I would like to add: I think this year’s event had a good mix of contributions from academia and industry on both topic areas: organic and inorganic chemistry. We welcomed  390 guests from 25 nations, 260 of whom came from Germany – that’s a higher number than attended the previous national conferences.
What’s up next for you, given that you cannot be re-elected as chairman after having served two terms?

I really enjoyed my time in office. But I think it’s good that there is a time limit on the chairmanship of GDCh Bauchemie. It means that there will always be fresh approaches and it allows new ideas to be implemented. The consistency of the new board will be fixed in two weeks, and the chairman will be established early next year. Although I cannot stand for election, I will certainly still be involved. In any event, we’ll see each other again next time!

A report about the 1st international conference of the Chemistry of Construction Materials in Berlin will be published in the EUROPEAN COATINGS JOURNAL 11/2013

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