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Research and development

We are continuing to systematically expand our research and development activities in 2012. Existing products and processes are being refined and optimized with a short- to medium-term time horizon. The Innovation & Technology Group Function, in particular, initiates medium- to long-term research projects to ensure the company’s success in future growth areas and thus safeguard its viability going forward. With energy prices climbing, we created a central energy task force within this group function. Comprising experts from various disciplines, the task force implements energy efficiency projects and acts as a Group center of energy technology competence.

Third-quarter research and development expenses were €49 million, or 2.3% of sales. These functional costs rose by 22.5% compared to the prior-year period. In the nine months from January to September 2012, the increase was 40.0%. We are resolutely pursuing the goal we defined in our Annual Report 2011 (section Research and development) of aligning our research programs in the future more directly and more systematically with the major global megatrends that are significant to our activities: mobility, urbanization, agriculture and water.

Important research projects were advanced in the Performance Polymers segment, which focuses on the mobility trend. Investments in this segment have included the optimization of high-performance rubbers that help improve the braking performance, abrasion resistance and wet grip of tires. As part of this effort, we developed a concept tire that has already received a AA rating in accordance with the new E.U. tire labeling regulations for fuel efficiency and wet grip. Our high-performance rubber Nd-PBR also contributes to improved tire life. In this way, we are cementing our position as the leading company in the field of specialty chemicals for “Green Mobility.” Sustainability in raw material sourcing is also particularly important. In this area, LANXESS is focusing on bio-based rubber. Since the end of 2011, the company has been marketing various grades of EPDM rubber made of ethylene derived from sugarcane rather than from oil. The Performance Chemicals segment is also setting trends in the area of research and development. Following the successful start-up of the membrane production plant in Bitterfeld, Germany, we added new membrane separation elements with high rejection and high flow rates to our product portfolio. We also developed a highly effective synthetic iron oxide for removing hydrogen sulfide from biogas. This can be easily metered into the fermentation reactor.

At the end of the third quarter of 2012, LANXESS employed 828 people in research and development, compared to 731 as of December 31, 2011. The increase is mainly attributable to the expansion of our technology centers.

For more information, readers are referred to the section on Research and Development and to the Opportunity Report in the Annual Report 2011, including, in particular, the statements about global megatrends.

Research and Development Expenses
€ million Q3 2011 Q3 2012 Change % 9M 2011 9M 2012 Change %
Research and development expenses 40 49 22.5 105 147 40.0
in % of sales 1.7% 2.3%   1.6% 2.1%