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The RD&I department (Research, Development and Innovation) has different tasks and responsibilities. On the one hand, the department is responsible for the research and development of the Care Solutions business line in order to develop innovative solutions for products in the personal care sector. On the other hand, processes are optimized in order to improve the yield and be more efficient and thus actively support production. Overall, the RD&I department helps to ensure that production and its processes are further developed and constantly optimized in terms of sustainability and possible improvements.
How does Evonik support the development of active ingredients?
Evonik’s Care Solutions business line is an expert in the field of active ingredients. Active ingredients play an important role for the health of our skin, e.g. strengthen the skin's natural protective barrier. Creams and care products containing active ingredients can be used to improve the appearance and constitution of the skin and are very popular.
The production of active ingredients is a complex process that has been researched and developed at Evonik for many years. The production processes are constantly adapted and optimized in order to ensure the high quality and effectiveness of the substances and to improve the processes in the long term.
Here you can see the synthesis process in which different compounds react with each other to create a new product. This is one of the many steps that can be optimized in the active ingredients production process. At that moment I could see how the substances dissolved.
Process monitoring and control equipment
Janina not only explained the production process to me, she also explained other equipment such as the IR probe, which makes it possible to track the reaction in real time and display the results in a diagram. By using the IR probe, which is held directly in the mixture, the reaction can be followed, documented and observed in real time. The results visible in the diagram provide helpful conclusions for optimizing the process. All relevant data such as temperature, time, pH value and substances can be read on a small monitor in front of the reactor and can now also be controlled from a laptop. This means that if you want to lower the temperature, you enter it into the program on the laptop, transfer the data and the temperature is lowered in the specified time.
Crystallisation and testing of the reaction progress
I also got a demonstration of the crystallisation process. Here we stood in front of a device that can be used to analyse and follow the crystallisation process. By using a laptop, images of the crystals can be taken and the production process can be precisely documented and observed.
At the end of my visit, I was allowed to actively participate in checking the progress of a reaction. I helped carry out a TLC (thin-layer chromatography) to determine whether the starting materials had been converted in the reaction.
The opportunity to visit Evonik's RD&I department was very interesting and gave me the chance to learn more about laboratory work while having a lot of fun. In this area, I discovered the importance of sustainability in the optimisation and streamlining of processes. They are constantly working on developing and improving sustainable solutions and materials to ensure sustainable production. Although I don't have an background in chemistry, everything was explained to me in an understandable way. I personally believe that it is important for employees in an organisation to understand the core business and gain an insight into the operating processes. Understanding the sustainability aspect in this context and being able to recognise the progress is helpful in understanding the development of the company.
In my next post, you can expect a closer look at the creation of this journal, the project "The Greenest Job" and exciting "Behind the Scene Photos".