Dr. Péter Krueger, Head of Bayer Working Group Nanotechnology
Title of presentation: Responsible approach for nano-based innovations
Conference language: german
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Dr. Péter Krüger is head of the Working Group Nanotechnology at Bayer AG. As such he is responsible for the coordination of the global nanotechnology activities of Bayer Group. During his 18 years with Bayer he held several positions in R&D, starting as a research scientist for polymer physics of thermoplastics within the Physics Unit of the former Central Research. Later he took over the responsibility for the entire Polymer Physics Department within the Central Research and in Bayer Polymers as well.
Péter Krüger is an elected board member of the Research Society for Plastics 'Forschungsgesellschaft Kunststoffe, FgK' in Darmstadt. He is currently heading the board of the Dechema ProcessNet Section 'Nanotechnology' and the Dechema/VCI Working Group 'Responsible Production and Use of Nanomaterials'. Peter Krüger is also Co-Chair of the NANOfutures initiative of the European Commission.
Péter Krüger was an elected industrial reviewer of the Applied Industrial Research organization, AIF in Germany for material sciences from 2006 until 2008.
Péter Krüger was born in Budapest (Hungary). He studied physics at the Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany) and finalized it with Master Thesis in theoretical/mathematical quantum mechanics. He obtained his PhD in Braunschweig for his research in experimental physics and material sciences on the field of relaxation and crystallization kinetics of amorphous and crystalline metallic materials.
Nanotechnology can be used in a wide variety of applications as an interdisciplinary platform technology. It provides sustainable solutions for some of the greatest challenges of a steadily growing population. It makes it possible to improve solar cells so that the cells can be produced more cheaply and can use more sunlight to generate electricity. Using nanotechnology, the efficiency of energy storage devices can be improved, contaminated drinking water can be purified more efficiently and illnesses reputed to be fatal can be cured.
Innovations are the basis for commercially sustainable products, processes and applications throughout the value-added chain and in all industrial sectors. Constant further development of these innovations means a sustainable improved position in global competition and protection of natural resources.
Safe operation and application are at least as important for the long-term success of innovations. In order to turn scientific findings into relevant nanotech innovations, intensive and responsible cooperation is required between all those involved in the value-added process. As well as innovators in universities and research institutes, this also includes participants from the industry, economic and political sectors.
Researching potential health or environmentally-relevant risks must be a part of every research project. Support for potential defeats and life cycle aspects must also be considered at an early stage.
In short: Safety research must become a significant part of innovation strategy.
Dr. Krüger, you are one of the leading German and European nanotechnology experts and head of the Nanotechnology Working Group at Bayer AG – which identifies itself as an innovation company. What role does nanotechnology play at Bayer?
Dr. Krüger: Nanotechnology is generally defined as manufacturing, modifying, manipulating, controlling, and characterizing structures at the nanometer level. It is a set of tools that has already been used for quite some time to help create products with exceptional properties – even if they don’t come into public consciousness as nanoproducts. For example, think about the catalysis that is indispensible for chemical processes or even automobile tires. Both have been long based on nanoscale structures.
Can a global player like Bayer AG even be imagined without nanotechnology?
Dr. Krüger: The technical possibilities in developing nano-based products and applications have been continuously expanding for decades now. We need only to think about the latest computers, displays, and communication tools – especially smartphones: Their performance is based on nanostructured components, but few people associate these things with nanotechnology.
Not only companies but also global society are no longer conceivable without nanotechnology products and applications. In the future, nanotechnology will make a substantial contribution to solving society’s challenges in the areas of energy, environment, climate, mobility, communication, and more. Therefore, Bayer AG can no longer be imagined today or in the future without nanotechnologies.
In addition to other responsibilities and functions, you advise the German federal government and the European Union. Within the framework of NanoWebTalk, you will be speaking on the topic of “Responsible development of nanotechnology innovations.” How do you define responsible development? What role does the consumer play?
Dr. Krüger: Responsible development of nanotechnologies includes numerous aspects. For one, we must ensure that these technologies fulfill their expectations, i.e., they are both useful to society as well as sustainable for consumers – in terms of economy, ecology, and social impact.
Keep in mind, no one acquires a product merely because of its impressive manufacturing technology, but instead because of desirable product characteristics – that are perhaps made possible through a certain technology. At the same time, products resulting from nanotechnologies, such as nanomaterials, must be safe for people and the environment throughout their entire lifecycle. Usefulness and safety are components of responsible development of new technologies – especially the products resulting from these technologies.
What else will we learn during your presentation?
Dr. Krüger: I will provide an overview of nanotechnology applications as sustainable solution options for societal challenges. In one example, I will illustrate the direct and supporting measures that are being implemented at Bayer to ensure the safety of nanomaterial products. This underscores that safety research is an essential and integral component of Bayer's innovation strategy. As an example, I will show how the “Innovation Alliance Inno.CNT,” which is supported by the German Ministry of Education and Research, is ensuring that the development of technologies and applications for products based on nanocarbonates takes place in tandem with safety research.