The butadiene distillation plant was also exciting. Butadiene is the starting material for the production of synthetic rubber and the eponym of the Buna-Werke in Schkopau, where rubber has been produced from crude oil since the 1930s. The plant was initially used for testing the process and was later operated as a test facility for other chemical formulations as well.
Many of the plants and machines on display were in use for more than half a century. Using a great deal of energy, they produced materials from fossil fuels that we can hardly imagine our everyday lives without today. But chemistry, and with it the technology with which we manufacture chemical products, must change. In the future, it must rely on renewable and recycled raw materials in order to close material cycles and produce less waste and greenhouse gases.
The Center for the Transformation of Chemistry wants to tackle this monumental task through transdisciplinary research and ensure that the Central German Chemical Triangle remains the cradle of scientific innovation. And who knows – maybe one day something made possible by the CTC will be found in the German Chemistry Museum in Merseburg.