Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the third largest chemical company in the world, is relying heavily on India for research and development and creating its future products for innovation. Some of the inventions developed by scientists and engineers at the SABIC Technology Center in Bengaluru (STC-B) are special lightweight thermoplastic materials that are stronger than steel and used to secure electric vehicle batteries, replace heavy metallic components in cars and make ophthalmic lenses and cell phones.
“SABIC is for whole world. The SABIC Technology Center in Bengaluru is configured with some of the most technologically advanced systems to put an end to research over the full life cycle of the product, “said Janardhanan Ramanujalu, Vice President and Regional Head, South East Asia, Australia & New Zealand, SABIC.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, agreed to buy a 70% stake in SABIC in March this year. Saudi Aramco’s upcoming initial public offering this December could be valued at up to $1.7 trillion.
“We agree that we are the foundation of SABIC’s R&D. Through geographic collaboration–the center is instrumental in driving our customers ‘ value chain, meeting international and domestic market needs, “said Ramanujalu.
The polycarbonate technology produced at STC-B, for instance, is an’ amorphous thermoplastics of science’ that offers a unique mix of durability and extraordinary impact energy. It also has a high level of optical clarity and resistance to temperature. Main applications include lenses for automotive headlights, cell phones, LED lighting, ophthalmic lenses, water bottles and houseware.
SABIC is the world’s second-largest polycarbonate producer with 24% of global market share (with a total capacity of 1.24 million tons per year). It has production plants for polycarbonate in the U.S., Europe and Saudi Arabia. Also, automotive chassis consists of fundamental parts such as rails and rockers that form frames that need to meet crash safety specifications such as frontal, side and roll-over impacts.
For electric vehicles, the STC-B center has produced a light weight battery safety solution. This comprises a resin-metal hybrid rocker panel enhanced with structures of honeycomb designed to absorb energy from the impact. Compared to steel and other traditional alternatives, the solution is 40% lighter in weight with similar profile. The hybrid solution produced at the center is also meant to replace heavy metal systems in the car body, enhancing engine fuel economy and longer drives with a single charge for electric vehicles.
The STC-B was founded in 2013 with an original investment of about $100 million and focuses on utilizing India’s research skills. The 45-acre plant hires nearly 300 researchers, engineers and designers. “More than 20 percent of the 400 patents that have been filed worldwide over the past four years have been added by India,” said Rajeshwer Dongara, STC-B site head. “For her talent pool, SABIC is staring at India,” Dongara said.