BASF: How will formic acid be synthesised in the future?

BASF. World's biggest chemical company.

In March 2007 a team of about 60 people came to Biel/Bienne Switzerland to reflect on how to synthesise formic acid in the future. We used the BrainStore Idea Machine to brainstorm on chemical engineering processes. BASF went home with a set of great ideas and has since then implemented the ideas and built new production facilities.

In order to tackle this complex problem, we introduced our process to a team of talented chemical engineers and explained the BrainStore Idea Machine to them. They worked alongside our staff to make sure that the chemistry knowledge was used properly within our process.

BrainStore then invited a very diverse group of people related and unrelated to BASF: Chemistry students, chemistry professors from various nations and external experts.

Thanks to the Ideamachine we were able to create more than a 1,000 raw ideas. Impressive! Our proven illumination phase allowed the experts to extract over 100 chemical synthesis ideas, and finally selected 10 that went into tests. Three of these were chosen for prototyping, and BASF has since implemented one of those three, creating a brand new production facility for formic acid.

This project allowed BASF to re-invent a production process that was 50 years old and to make it much more efficient and much less costly.