In his Oct. 9 speech, Schattenmann said global population growth, more than any other factor, is driving innovation in the elastomers industry.
World population exploded between 1990 and 2017, from 5.3 billion to 7.6 billion, according to Schattenmann. By 2100, it will reach 11.2 billion, he said.
This population growth in turn means a burgeoning middle class in emerging economies, especially China and India, according to Schattenmann.
"We have more and more people, but not more resources," he said.
Because of this, auto makers in particular have an ever greater need for elastomers that are sustainable and fuel-saving while also exceeding the performance and longevity of current materials, Schattenmann said.
These factors have helped drive accelerated research methods at Dow, according to Schattenmann. These include:
- High-throughput research enabling faster technology developments to address the needs of Dow's customers;
- Advanced molecular catalyst technology for the production of EPDM;
- Enhanced analytical science ensuring the quality of raw materials and high performance of finished goods;
- Development of moldable optical silicones for energy-efficient LEDs that allow high-beam illumination without blinding other drivers. (The pending facility in China will be a center for manufacturing the resins for these applications.); and
- Advanced material modeling and application simulations, achieving fast, reliable design verification through 3D printing with liquid silicone rubber.
Elastomer technologies of these kinds can address urgent megatrends in markets such as mobility, consumer, electrical and industrial/infrastructure, such as globalization, sustainable development, urbanization and digitization, according to Schattenmann.
In developing new silicone technologies and applications, Dow is ready and willing to collaborate with its customers, according to Schattenmann.
"We are always open to looking at every opportunity," he said. "There is no market in which we don't see something coming our way.
"Ours is a very efficient system," Schattenmann said. "Our customers live in our markets, and we can translate our technologies from one market to another."
The current business situation makes collaboration between suppliers and customers a necessity, according to Schattenmann.
"Thirty or forty years ago, GM and others had fully integrated research facilities," he said. "But now, GM can't afford a chemistry lab. Effective collaboration is absolutely critical."
The efficiency of Dow's system, according to Schattenmann, is tied to the company's efforts to replicate its manufacturing facilities in three regions—North America, Europe and Asia.
"There's a significant demand for resins in Asia, but we also have a footprint in North America," he said.
For that reason, the new round of tariffs between the U.S. and China should not have a significant impact on Dow.
"It's a good hedge strategy," Schattenmann said. "We can offset government actions. We offer resins in multiple regions. We are self-sufficient in Asia, which alleviates restraints in North America."