Research and development

To ensure efficient use of resources and continuously improve our extraction and production processes, we conduct our own internal research and development and cooperate with external research institutions. Global trends give rise to additional fields of activity, and innovation projects supplement our traditional research and development work on salt and potash products. In line with our central focus on sustainability and customer centricity, our research focused on concepts for post-utilisation, tailings piles and disposal relating to the reduction of saline wastewater as well as product development.

Research institutions and cooperation

For our Research & Development, we use our own research facilities, we cooperate in public/private partnerships, initiate research projects at higher education institutions and other research institutes, and cooperate with industrial partners.

K+S Analysis and Research Centre

The K+S Analysis and Research Centre (AFZ) in Unterbreizbach, which employs around 100 scientists, engineers and specialist staff, is K+S’s central research institute. The tasks of the AFZ include carrying out analyses, application-oriented fundamental research and process and product development for all customer segments of the K+S Group. All relevant analysis methods are covered from standard analysis to more complex special analysis.

Morton Salt research laboratory

Morton Salt operates a modern research and development laboratory in Elgin, Illinois, USA. Work is largely focussed on new product development in the area of Salt, the improvement of existing products by modifying the product characteristics and the search for new application options.

The construction of a state-of-the-art research and development facility near the headquarters in Chicago is underway. The new innovation centre will contribute to accelerating growth

of product innovation in key customer segments. In a multi-functional space, where meetings with customers, marketing events and consumer focus groups with live demonstrations and tastings can be held, the new innovation centre will create a unique Morton brand experience.

INNOLABs

The Innolabs, which were set up in 2017, supplement the established Research & Development facilities. The "AgTech/Nutrition" Innolab, for example, is working on overarching questions relating to the fields of safeguarding resources, water efficiency and soil health. The "Industrial Science" Innolab is looking for new business models in the areas of health care and biochemistry.

Selected research and development projects and results

  • Following the commissioning of the new kainite crystallisation and flotation (KCF) facility at the Werra plant, further research and development is being carried out so that the remaining processing wastewater can be treated in such a way that it can be safely stored in mine voids near the site.
  • A pilot project to cover tailings piles using a thin layer cover and revegetation has also begun and is being scientifically monitored. In addition to this pilot, other alternatives to cover tailings piles are also being investigated. A number of internal efforts have also been initiated, including a crowdsourcing project, to develop new approaches.
  • The Innolab is testing the technical feasibility of macroalgae breeding in artificial seawater at its own pilot facility. Various marine algae species are currently being cultivated and examined for economic viability.
  • With the opening of the aquaponic container and the launch of a consumer app, the Innolab has put the spotlight on urban farming for the first time. The aim is to raise awareness of, and test various technologies for urban cultivation in closed systems.

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