Brightlands Materials Center for new sustainable materials

Glass that retains its heat when warm and allows heat to pass through when cold. Sustainable materials for the automotive industry that are twice as light as steel and a quarter lighter than aluminium. TNO is working on all this and much more with partners at the Brightlands Materials Center in the province of Limburg.

Do you want to know more?

Do you see possible applications or would you like to participate in a shared research programme? Please contact Peter Wolfs


Brightlands Materials Center (BMC) is an international research centre for new, sustainable technologies in the field of plastics and their applications. At the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, dozens of knowledge institutes and companies are working on traditional polymers based on both oil and vegetable raw materials in a variety of shared research programmes.


SunSmart, the first affordable, energy-optimised window

Sustainable buildings

We work on smart coatings for solar control glass for the construction industry, among other things. Solar control coatings which are currently on the market always block heat from the sun. But when it’s cold outside, solar heat comes in handy to help heat up the inside of a building. With our expertise in nanotechnology, we’re developing thermochromic nano-coatings and optical pigments in polymeric films that actively regulate the heat management in a building. In line with this, we’re developing coatings and pigmented encapsulants that improve the effectiveness and aesthetics of solar panels.

In addition to creating an optimised energy-efficient window for intermediate climates, we are looking for a way to make the production process cheaper. For example, we’re working on a wet-chemical coating that is easy to apply to glass. Important advantages for the consumer are increased comfort and reduced energy costs at an ROI of 7 years. Additionally, energy savings lead to lower CO2 emissions. On a laboratory scale, we have shown that the technology works and outperforms commercial energy-efficient windows. As the next step, we will make the coatings suitable for testing on a larger scale in industry.

Lightweight automotive


For the automotive industry, we focus on thermoplastic materials. Because of their properties, such composites have a lot of potential for use in lightweight constructions. They are up to twice as light as steel and as much as a quarter lighter than aluminium, which also contributes to CO2 reduction. In our research, we focus on how we can predict their strength and lifespan and the adhesion of composites with other materials. Using the knowledge gained, we build models with which we – together with our partners – optimise the materials in vehicle components in a cost-efficient manner.

When introducing new materials, we pay special attention to the end of the lifespan. We develop concepts for recycling in which we ensure that the recycled material is suitable for structural applications.


What makes our expertise so special is the combination of modelling skills with insights into specific materials. Furthermore, we have unique facilities to support experimental research, from clean rooms to 3D printing facilities and from pilot installations to access to investors.

Located on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus, we have short lines of communication with material suppliers and companies that apply the innovative materials in practice. Additionally, the province of Limburg has good access to the expertise of educational institutions. Zuyd University of Applied Sciences and the universities of Eindhoven, Maastricht, Twente and Hasselt all help us to accelerate our research, for example.


In order to test glass coating prototypes in the built environment, we would like to get in touch with glass companies and housing associations that want to apply the comfort-enhancing and energy-saving coatings in their renovation projects or with construction companies that want to apply the innovations in their projects. We are also looking for partners in the region regarding composites for the automotive industry, from companies that recover, reduce, sort and generate new streams to companies that reuse the recycled materials.

Do you want to know more?

Do you see possible applications or would you like to participate in a shared research programme? Please contact Peter Wolfs

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09 March 2021
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Sustainable Chemical Industry

Ir. Peter Wolfs

  • Chemistry
  • Materialtransition
  • Circular Economy
  • Air Quality

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