In a strategic collaboration with the global producer of consumer goods Procter & Gamble (P&G), FAU researchers are examining the material properties of everyday products – and trying to optimise them.
On 30 July, P&G board member Dr. Helen Neville and FAU President Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske signed the collaboration agreement.
Consumer products such as nappies, toothbrushes or shampoos are often subject to extensive research and development – their production process can be just as sophisticated as that of high-tech products. In order to keep improving the products, methodical approaches from modern materials science are required. The FAU Cluster of Excellence ‘Engineering of Advanced Materials (EAM)’ already realises the successful collaboration of mathematicians, natural scientists and engineers in order to model, synthesise and characterise nanoparticles, electronic components, catalyst and and lightweight materials.
As part of the collaboration with P&G, which was initiated from within EAM by Prof. Dr. Tim Clark, Computer Chemistry Centre, and Prof. Dr. Dirk Zahn, professorship for Theoretical Chemistry, an interdisciplinary group of Erlangen scientists is seeking ways to improve the material properties of consumer products. For example, molecular models give the researchers a more detailed understanding of hair structures and help them develop high-quality hair care products. Furthermore, researchers are simulating the absorbency and durability of superabsorbent polymers, plastics that are capable of absorbing several times their own weight in liquids. They are used especially in nappies and similar hygiene products. The FAU scientists also plan to examine the flow fields around rotating toothbrushes more closely.
While science in Erlangen benefits from applied research, Dr. Helen Neville, European Vice President for Research and Development at P&G, also sees many advantages for her company: ‘We are hoping for the projects in Erlangen to provide us with new developments in the fields modelling and materials. We have found excellent scientists here who have a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary way of working and thinking. Not only the research departments of Procter & Gamble in Germany, but also those in the US and in Belgium are interested in our co-operation.’
‘The framework agreements guaranteed the best possible conditions for a long-term, strategic collaboration between a strong research university such as FAU and an important global player such as P&G,’ explains Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske, President of FAU. ‘This allows us to build a bridge between fundamental research – which has been the domain of universities since time immemorial – and practical applications. We are looking forward to seeing how our research results will affect consumer products.’
On 30 July 2013 at 6 p.m., Prof. Grüske and Dr. Helen Neville signed the Master Collaboration Agreement between FAU and P&G at the President’s office at the Erlangen Schloss. The Bavarian Economic Secretary Katja Hessel was present as a guest; she sees this agreement as an outstanding basis for the establishment of further P&G research and development projects in the Free State of Bavaria. The organisations of the Free State, Bayern Innovativ and Invest in Bavaria, have supported P&G’s activities in Bavaria, the state of technological innovation, for quite some time already.
P&G has approximately 126,000 employees worldwide, 13,000 of which work in Germany alone. The company attaches great importance to sustainability and the environmentally-conscious and efficient use of resources. The impact of this responsible conduct becomes clear in light of the 1.5 billion times consumers come into contact with P&G products daily according to the company’s own information.
Approximately 1000 of the worldwide 9000 researchers are employed locally, working on innovations that improve people’s daily lives.
Prof. Tim Clark
Computer Chemistry Centre
Phone: +49 (0)9131 85 22948
Prof. Dirk Zahn
Professorship for Theoretical Chemistry
Phone: +49 (0)9131 85 26938
Procter & Gamble
Head of Corporate Communication for the P&G Group in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Phone: +49 (0)6196 89 6647