BASF and University of Heidelberg Join Forces to Develop New Mathematical Software for Research

16 06 2008
Saving time and money via fewer lab experiments — Speeding up lab development — University of Heidelberg continues with "Industry on Campus”
Today (16 June 2008) BASF SE and the University of Heidelberg signed a cooperation agreement on the development of new mathematical software. For this purpose BASF will be supporting a Junior Research Group at Heidelberg University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR) to the tune of 195,000 euros annually. The Research Group’s job is to devise software for the optimisation of laboratory experiments on the basis of mathematical models. For the duration of the project (initially three years) the Junior Research Group will be integrated into the working group headed by Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Bock, managing director of IWR. The team is made up of one postdoc, two doctoral students and two student assistants. The Research Group is part of the Heidelberg Graduate School of Mathematical and Computational Methods for the Sciences (HGS) funded by resources provided in the framework of the Initiative for Excellence. The postdoc position was advertised internationally.

"Cooperation between industry and institutions of higher education is becoming more and more important all the time,” said Dr. Marina Frost, chief administrative officer of the University of Heidelberg. "This shows how right we were to establish the ‘Industry on Campus’ approach, which is designed to enhance cooperation with industry on long-term, strategically oriented basic-research projects.” Prof. Dr. Dieter Jahn, head of BASF’s Science Relations and Innovation Management section, agreed: "In the shape of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing we have found a pioneering partner in the field of optimal experiment planning. The Centre provides the ideal parameters for efficient research.”

In future, BASF researchers will be drawing on the new software for the development of all chemical, physical and technical processes that can be described in mathematical terms. "The challenge is the mathematical modelling and computer simulation of highly complex chemical reaction equations and processes,” Bock explained. "First the Junior Research Group has to devise new methods and algorithms. These will form the basis of the software and contribute essentially to the optimisation of experiments.”

Experience indicates that optimal model-based experiment planning would reduce lab experiments by anything up to 80 percent. "This way we can appreciably enhance the effectiveness of our research and save a great deal of time and money,” said Dr. Hergen Schultze, project leader and member of the BASF’s Scientific Computing research unit. Catalysis research and organic electronics will be two of the main fields benefiting from the new software. "With the help of the software such things as catalyst stability tests, which normally take several months, can be reduced to the space of a few weeks,” said Schultze.

Contacts for the press
Sören Pinkow
phone: 0621/6020120
fax: 0621/6020458

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

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