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Feature: Innovating plastics

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on Jan 12, 2017

Since its inception of R&D operations in 2012, 380 patents were filed at Borouge Innovation Centre.
Since its inception of R&D operations in 2012, 380 patents were filed at Borouge Innovation Centre.

Borouge is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Austria-based Borealis. The joint venture has filed an average of almost eight patent applications each month for the past four years, covering a range of creative, sustainable and differentiated plastics solutions.

Borouge is leading innovations in the global plastics industry with over 380 patent applications filed since 2012.

These inventions have been made possible, thanks to Borouge’s state-of-the-art Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Since the inception of research and development operations in 2012, the 380 patents filed at Borouge Innovation Centre have accounted for more than 30 percent of all the patents registered by the UAE applicants with the World Intellectual Property Organisation database.

Around 16 percent of Borouge’s annual sales volume is now derived from products developed at Borouge Innovation Centre and the pace of innovation is accelerating.

Within the next five years, the number of patents filed by the Innovation Centre is expected to more than double and reach around 750, with new products representing approximately one million tonne per year, or more than 20 percent of Borouge’s annual sales.

Intellectual property

Intellectual Property Rights are essential tools for protecting Borouge’s innovation related investments, allowing Borouge to enjoy exclusive rights for inventions such as new polymers or polymer compositions. Intellectual property rights also prevent competitors from using patented inventions for profitable purposes for up to 20 years.

The Intellectual Property Department at the Innovation Centre oversees Borouge’s patents, including the preparation of applications following the discussion and defining of the innovative features. The department then submits applications with the World Intellectual Property Organisation to receive patents.

“Intellectual property is basically the essence of what is developed by an R&D organisation,” said Dr Thorsten Loehl, vice president innovation at Borouge.

“With Borouge’s corporate mission, innovation has always been a fundamental pillar of our overall success and long-term business strategy. Protecting our intellectual property with patents is paramount within the competitive environment that we operate,” added Dr Leohl.

Patent applications

A patent application is usually first filed in European or Chinese markets. One year following the submission, an international application (in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty that covers more than 151 countries) is filed based on the first patent application.

The international patent application can then be extended in countries where Borouge is selling its products, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China and Korea. The review and processing by each country’s patent office takes between two and five years.

In order for an innovation to be successfully patented, the application must demonstrate that the invention is new; the invention exceeds the specification of an earlier state-of-the-art invention; the invention has a creative effect (with different or improved properties compared to an earlier state-of-the-art invention); and the invention has an industrial application.

Since Borouge’s first patent application in 2012, the Innovation Centre has developed a wide spectrum of polymers and related final product applications.

Borouge concentrates on having its manufacturing operations subjected to the Free-to-Operate regulation, to ensure operations are not patent-protected by other companies.

Borouge’s patented portfolio includes various types of polymer grades, such as copolymers that are used for hot plumbing and heating pressure, and non-pressure pipes and fittings; compound polymers for drip irrigation pipe applications, pressurised large-diameter pipes, and household applications such as food packaging materials; and high-density polyethylene grades to make caps and other polymer compositions for BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) film applications

Value additions

Borouge’s innovative plastics solutions, developed and patented at the Innovation Centre, create added value for its customers due to unique properties, such as weight reduction, higher productivity, energy savings, enhanced functionality, improved safety, durability, aesthetic performance, lower costs, recyclability and lower carbon/water footprints.

“Innovation at Borouge is very much industry-driven,” said Dr Loehl. “With this outstanding hub of business creativity, Borouge has enhanced its innovation capabilities to better support customers and to respond to their increasingly complex requirements by continuously developing new, sustainable and innovative product offerings.”


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