Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

New solutions for our customers

Tapping into the power of the sun
© German Pavilion Expo Milano 2015 / B. Handke
Tapping into the power of the sun
Across the globe, renewable energy is growing more prominent as a source of power and is helping greatly to mitigate our impact on the climate. Photovoltaics are playing a key role because they efficiently transform solar energy into electricity. Conventional silicon solar cells such as those found on roofs are, however, limited in their use because they are inflexible and opaque.
By contrast, organic photovoltaics offer a wide range of potential new applications. Organic semiconductor materials – which we develop and produce – can be printed onto flexible plastic sheets just like printing on paper. They can also be affixed to curved surfaces like a second skin. These low-weight solar cells generate power regardless of the angle of the light hitting the surface. Depending on the composition of the ink they contain, these cells can shimmer in various colors. It is even possible to produce transparent cells. Organic photovoltaics can be used on building facades or clothing.
At the Expo 2015 in Milan, we debuted the large-scale use of our print-ready lisicon® formulations, integrating them into five "solar trees" on display at the German Pavilion. More than 250 square meters were covered in lisicon. When the sunlight was at its peak, these twelve-meter tall plastic trees were generating up to five kilowatts, which can power roughly 50 PCs at full capacity.
 
Energy-saving liquid crystals
Energy-saving liquid crystals
Touchscreen mobile devices have revolutionized our day-to-day lives and fundamentally altered our communication culture. When you swipe your fingers across the screen of your mobile device, you are setting into motion liquid crystal molecules that were likely made by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Roughly a tenth of a gram of this liquid crystal mixture is needed to illuminate a smartphone or tablet.
Yet mobile devices these days must have more than vivid, high-resolution displays – they also need to consume as little energy as possible. To meet this challenge, we have developed the innovative liquid crystal technology known as UB-FFS, which was launched in 2014.
How does this technology work? Let's say you’re watching a video on a display with the brightness turned all the way up, which accounts for half of a mobile device's power consumption. This is where UB-FFS comes into play. UB is short for “ultra brightness”, called such because it allows the liquid crystal layer to transmit up to 15% more of the display's backlighting. What's more, this “extra” light is utilized to provide superior image resolution. Devices with UB-FFS consume up to 30% less energy and have a longer battery life. This technology also improves display quality, which allows users to more easily read the screen from a variety of angles.
 
Making old single-use products into something new
Making old single-use products into something new
It's not easy to recycle the plastic in our Life Science products, primarily due to inadequate recycling options, challenging material properties, and stringent regulatory requirements. We are continually working to identify new ways to minimize our environmental impacts, a goal that we pursue in collaboration with our customers. One of the newest and most novel approaches we’re taking is the development of new recycling processes.
Take for instance our partnership with Triumvirate Environmental. At the end of 2014, we joined forces with Triumvirate, a waste management company headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts (USA). They have developed a novel process for recycling challenging waste streams like ours. This method recycles 100% of the product without needing to first separate the materials. Triumvirate then takes the recycled mass and manufactures plastic materials utilized by the construction industry. We commercialized this recycling program at the beginning of 2015.
In the course of 2015, we recycled more than 33 metric tons of waste generated from the use of our products. A significant portion of this was attributable to the biopharmaceutical production activities of two customers. We are currently in the process of encouraging other customers to adopt the program as well.
 
Taking a holistic view of our products
Taking a holistic view of our products
We work non-stop to improve the sustainability footprint of our products while also helping our customers reach their own sustainability goals. Our Life Science business sector has developed the Design for Sustainability Program in an effort to reduce the environmental impacts of our products across their entire life cycle, from manufacture and use to end of life. During the product design process, we identify potential consequences they may have for people and the environment, seeking ways to prevent these issues from arising. Under this approach, we also work to enhance the performance of our products and make them more user-friendly.
As an example, we employed DfS principles in the design of our EZ-Fit™ Manifold, which is used for microbiological water testing in the food and beverage industry. In comparison to its predecessor, the EZ-Fit™ Manifold is easier to clean; the filtration heads can be easily removed and sterilized, whereas the old model had to be sterilized in its entirety. These changes have significantly reduced our customers' impacts on the environment, with autoclave-associated carbon emissions dropping by 91%. The device packaging has also been optimized and now consists entirely of recyclable cardboard, meaning that 47% less raw material is needed.
 

DISCLAIMER

Publication of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
There are two different, unaffiliated companies that use the name MERCK. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates this website, uses the firm name “Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany,” in the United States and Canada, and also uses “EMD Serono” in biopharma, “MilliporeSigma” in life science and “EMD Performance Materials” in materials business. The other company, Merck & Co., Inc. holds the rights in the trademark MERCK in the United States and Canada. Merck & Co. is not affiliated with or related to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which owns the MERCK trademark in all other countries of the world.   To reflect such fact and to avoid any confusion, certain logos, terms and business descriptions of the publications on this website have been substituted or modified, such as by referring to “Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany” instead of “Merck” standing alone.  Publications on this webpage, therefore, slightly deviate from the otherwise identical versions accessible outside the United States and Canada.