“The collaboration between the Sport Group and BASF will generate a sustainable new solution for the construction of sports facilities.” In an interview with ON TOP, Jens Dierssen, responsible for Infinergy® at BASF, highlights the possibilities provided by the thermoplastic polymer.
ON TOP: What are the properties of Infinergy® and what is it made of?
Jens Dierssen: Infinergy® is made of expanded TPU (E-TPU). This is a thermoplastic polymer and is characterised by immense elasticity and outstanding durability.
ON TOP: And who invented it?
Jens Dierssen: It is an in-house BASF development and exemplifies one of our researchers having a particular idea for a product. Only after the development stage did we consider what can we do with it and which industries might be affected. This includes our cooperation with the Sport Group.
ON TOP: What are your hopes for the partnership between BASF and the Sport Group?
Jens Dierssen: I am very pleased with this partnership, which we began a little over two years ago and which has intensified considerably in recent months. The strategic collaboration between the Sport Group and BASF will generate a sustainable new solution for the construction of sports facilities.
ON TOP: Within the Sport Group, we are heavily involved in the topic of recycling. What role does the Infinergy® material play here?
Jens Dierssen: In sport, it can be used to make unsealed, sustainable and environmentally friendly sports facilities, running tracks and playgrounds. The high-performance material has an excellent environmental footprint and is Öko-Tex® certified. The production cycle is also completely waste-free. The product can be removed and reused without any harmful residues. Moreover, the particles are not microplastics. In addition, abrasion is low thanks to the product’s durability.
ON TOP: How does the elasticity perform in extreme weather conditions?
Jens Dierssen: To demonstrate how good it is, we gave a presentation to journalists, in which we exposed a normal sport shoe and a shoe made with the new polymer to extreme cold at minus 20 degrees Celsius. In the test, the normal sport shoe was completely stiff and inflexible, while the Infinergy® shoe retained all its elasticity.
ON TOP: In our latitudes, those temperatures are rather rare. What about elasticity throughout the seasons?
Jens Dierssen: Throughout all seasons, the product meets the requirements for elasticity. Fall protection is guaranteed in all temperature ranges. This is advantageous for outdoor sports or leisure facilities given that children can still play outside, even when it is not quite so warm.
ON TOP: How does Infinergy® behave in higher temperatures?
Jens Dierssen: That’s where the product’s fantastic properties really shine bright. As the temperature rises, the material does not become even softer, yet retains its stability.
ON TOP: Where has Infinergy® already been used successfully?
Jens Dierssen: We have analysed some industries that promise interesting application potential. We first explored footwear. As a further example, the material has also been used in a tennis racquet, designed in collaboration with Dunlop. But we have also developed a prototype bicycle. Alternatively, it could be used in work shoes for people who stand at a production line all day or who walk a lot. Thanks to its comfortable properties, it keeps fatigue at bay and protects the joints, as confirmed by the initial results from a study by the University of Rostock. Another example is the joint venture with the Chinese fitness app KEEP to develop foldable treadmills. The automotive industry is also showing significant interest. We show all the things it can do in our virtual showroom (www.infinergy-virtualshowroom.com).
Chemist Jens Dierssen has worked for BASF since 2000. Based in Singapore, Dierssen has overseen the development of Infinergy® from the beginning and is now responsible for marketing the polymer as Director of Global Business Management Infinergy®.