Research & development driving the innovation

Designing innovative, high performance products and solutions to improve our habitat and everyday life is at the heart of Saint-Gobain's strategy. This is a responsibility for the Group’s teams, as well as a major source of motivation. Through their innovations, the teams contribute to reducing the environmental impacts of buildings, processes and the development of new high-performance solutions.

Research that anticipates future challenges 

Innovation is the Group’s greatest differentiating strength in the face of growing competition and numerous new players in its markets. 

For high value-added products, Saint-Gobain’s ability to combine cutting-edge technology and design is often a major advantage for enhancing its leadership position. In markets where the competition is concentrated on low cost offers, continuous innovation to reduce production costs and offer increasingly effective customer service is the only way to stay competitive. 

Eight strategic programs 

Saint-Gobain’s strategic research programs correspond to a portfolio of projects that open the door to emerging markets and technologies.

  • Active glass glazing
  • High-performance insulation systems
  • External wall insulation systems
  • Functional flexible films
  • Lighting
  • Energy efficient and the environmental impact of friendly processes
  • Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC)
  • Energy storage 

R&D strategic program: Discover the electrochromic glazing

"Energy efficient and the environmental impact of friendly processes"

The Energy efficient and the environmental impact of friendly processes program is designed to reduce the energy consumption and environmental footprint of the Group’s industrial processes. 

Since the program was launched in 2006, Saint-Gobain’s research teams have worked on several specific developments, including pre-heating glass raw materials and introducing new technologies for producing stone wool and treating waste. The project has the potential to open numerous avenues, such as the development of new melting techniques, better use of the energy produced during the cycle and the use of biomass as a fuel source. Pilot tests trials using biomass in furnaces have been carried out. 

On a daily basis, researchers are studying the physico-chemical processes at play work during melting of a the glass batch, floating the glass flow, combustion and finishing refining. They are leveraging all available techniques, including laboratory experiments, digital simulation, tests trials on continuously operating pilot furnaces and, ultimately, participation in industrial trials

Cross-functional R&D programs on materials and building sciences

The cross-functional R&D programs prepare the future of the Group’s business lines and their development by anticipating major changes in techniques and markets. These cross-functional programs, linked directly to the work axes of the marketing groups, allow it to organize skills common to the Group’s various Activities and to improve Saint-Gobain’s ability to develop key technologies.

They are currently concentrated around two major areas: materials science and building science.

A cross-functional program devoted to air quality

A cross-program to improve air quality was set up in 2013 to enhance competencies in this field more effectively and improve Saint-Gobain’s ability to develop key technologies.

Indoor air quality has become a major component of building comfort in the last few years. Saint-Gobain is already working on the solutions of tomorrow to respond to residents’ health and well-being concerns.

Several national studies, including one by the French observatory on indoor air quality (OQAI), have been carried out to identify and describe the pollutants found in single-family homes and apartments and in buildings open to the public. These studies have raised awareness about the health and cost consequences of indoor air quality.

One of the researchers’ missions has been to measure the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions potential of Saint-Gobain products and to deploy innovative solutions that reduce or eliminate such emissions. Another area of research involves identifying and assessing the potential of air purification technologies,  which are then integrated into air purification filters, plasterboard, paintable wall coverings and other building materials.

R&D also provides technical support for Saint-Gobain Multi-Comfort renovation and new building projects by measuring indoor air quality.