How I make a difference: computer modeling for better performing electronic materials
Conducting simulations on polymers to optimize their sustainability
Stefan Knippenberg is a research scientist specialized in modeling. He works at Solvay’s Application laboratory in Brussels, simulating on powerful computers the structure-property relationships of existing products and their possible variations.
“We’re constantly exploring new properties and possibilities of our materials, especially when those properties can increase the sustainability of the products they are used in. To do that, experiments in the lab are of course a necessity, but computer modeling is a great way of complementing lab work, as it helps us understand what happens during experiments and might suggest innovative solutions that weren't considered.”
Computer modeling helps us find formulations that perform better. Thanks to that, our customers will make more efficient end-products.
Electronic materials, plastics, solvents: sustainability & efficiency all around
But what does this have to do with sustainability? Stefan's findings have a direct impact on how Solvay’s products will behave. As an example, “Some solvents are harmful for the environment,” Stefan explains. “But with modeling, we can help replace them with more environmentally friendly ones.” Working on the behavior of molecules can also improve the performance of electronic materials. “Modeling helps us find formulations that can perform better. Thanks to that, our customers will make more efficient end-products.”
Bridging the gap between lab and industry
“We also collaborate with the academic world; that way, we can establish and maintain a cutting-edge competence portfolio which can be efficiently used in the specialized industrial research context of Solvay and its science intensive industries,” Stefan says, confirming that working alone in front of a computer screen is always made more efficient by reaching out to others. “We all have our own projects, but we find it’s very fruitful to communicate and exchange experiences: A different point of view always helps.”
Stefan came to Solvay with the firm conviction that companies such as ours need to work towards doing the “right thing.” During his time with us, he has observed that this aspiration is certainly true and that “Solvay genuinely cares about sustainability.” Stefan adds: “I trust the company’s values.”