Aachen, September 2022 - In his opening speech, Prof. Christian Hopmann made it clear that - not only in the plastics industry - all signs point to crisis. The industry is confronted with massive problems in energy supply and shortages in delivery, at a time when the previous Corona crisis is not yet over. The long-lamented shortage of skilled workers also continues to be a problem for companies. This makes it all the more urgent to join forces within the industry and look for solutions together. The colloquium, as a networking platform, offered an excellent starting point for this. 600 participants came to Aachen on 7 and 8 September to take part in lectures and discussions and to develop sustainable strategies.
Sustainability and a circular economy as major tasks for the future
The topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly urgent in view of the noticeable climate change, Dr Herbert Müller, Chairman of the Association of Sponsors at IKV, emphasised in his address. He announced that with the support of the association, the institute would establish a new professorship for plastics in the circular economy in order to investigate central issues and develop environmentally compatible solutions for plastics technology that will find practical application.
All four plenary lectures of the colloquium also dealt with sustainability in one way or another: the topics were reduction of CO2 emissions through the use of hydrogen technologies, chemical recycling and the necessity and implementation of a plastics circular economy.
Dr. Kai Fischer (IKV) highlighted the potential of hydrogen in transport and the role plastics play in the growing application of this technology. A market and technology study by IKV compiled the opportunities and possibilities for plastics applications in the hydrogen economy and derived a road map for interdisciplinary research projects. IKV participates in the BMBF funded Hydrogen Clusters4Future and is part of the RWTH Center for Sustainable Hydrogen Systems, which pools the universities activities in this field. Campus Melaten alone counts more than 100 running projects with industry participation on the topic of hydrogen technologies.
The second plenary speaker, Dr. Marco Bosch (BASF) described the role of hydrogen technologies on BASF's path to net zero CO2 emissions.
"Is chemical recycling the solution to plastic waste?" - This was the question with which Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Georg Quicker (TEER, RWTH Aachen) captivated the audience on the second day of the colloquium. His conclusion: There is still a need to clarify whether chemical recycling is the better option in terms of ecology compared to incineration and energy recovery.
Thorsten Kühmann (VDMA) emphasised in his plenary lecture, quasi as a closing word for the colloquium, the necessity of closed loop recycling management for a dynamic development of the plastics industry.
Numerous questions and lively discussions gave evidence of the participants’ interest in these future-oriented plenary topics. Animated interaction between participants and plenary speakers continued during the conference breaks.
IKV 360° - Research Live made research topics accessible
IKV 360° - Research Live took the participants to the Campus Melaten and into IKV's pilot plants. The programme provided visitors with information on the content, scope and status of more than 80 research projects, as well as the matching contact person. The scientific staff were available at the operating plants for discussions and questions. Thus, the tour provided the optimal hands-on complement to the topics of the extensive lecture programme at the Eurogress.
Definitely not serious - the traditional Beer Colloquium
There was a lot of catching up to do after the Beer Colloquium had to be cancelled in 2020. The "need to catch up" was reflected at the traditional evening event by a two-hour show by the IKV staff with professional light and sound staging. The numerous short stage plays and interludes, which the staff had written and filmed themselves, were impressively accompanied by the performance of the institute's very own band "Los Polymeros", who gave a remarkable performance with their rendition of numerous hits.
Providing young professionals for the plastics industry: Recruiting Speed Dating
A magnet for young engineers and companies in the plastics industry was the Recruiting Speed Dating on the second day of the colloquium. 40 students of plastics engineering and 20 personnel managers from the plastics industry were able to make initial contacts in 10-minute conversations. The response was very positive on both sides.
"The Recruiting Speed Dating was a great opportunity to introduce our company to a large group of young engineers."
Dr.-Ing. Stefan Haase, Balda Medical GmbH
"A big thank you to the students and to the Institute of Plastics Processing for this event. It was great to meet so many young, great and talented engineers!"
Ines Oud, Simcon
32nd Plastics Engineering Colloquium again in spring
Even though the September date brought a colloquium in the best late summer weather, the IKV Colloquium will return to its original spring date in two years' time: the 32nd International Colloquium Plastics Technology will be held in Aachen on 28-29 February 2024.