Covestro Launches New Raw Material
Carbon dioxide instead of crude oil – Covestro AG, Leverkusen, Germany, is now, for the first time, using CO2 to produce plastics on an industrial scale. On Friday, the company opened a production plant for an innovative foam component made with 20 % CO2 at its Dormagen site near Cologne, Germany.
The new process saves a proportional amount of the traditional oil-based raw material, thus making a contribution to sustainability that Covestro believes offers considerable potential. “We have to change the way we look at CO2 , and we will. Using it as an alternative source of raw materials is a solution to some of the biggest challenges of our time – finding a replacement for finite fossil resources such as oil and gas and closing material cycles. Thanks to our innovative process and the launch of our production operations in Dormagen, we see ourselves as a pioneer in this area – true to our vision ‘To make the world a brighter place’,” said Covestro CEO Patrick Thomas at the opening ceremony, which was attended by more than 150 guests from business, science and politics.
The German Federal government is promoting the use of CO2 as a raw material in order to expand the chemical industry’s raw materials basis and open new avenues to sustainability. It supported Covestro’s technology financially in the research and development phase. Covestro scientists worked hand-in-hand with experts from the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen, Germany – a research institute operated jointly with RWTH University – to find the right catalyst that would make the chemical reaction with CO2 possible.
In Dormagen, Covestro is now using carbon from CO2 to manufacture a new type of polyol. These are core building blocks for polyurethane foam – a versatile material that is used in many industries around the world and that we encounter throughout our daily lives. The carbon dioxide is chemically bound into the material. The new CO2 -based polyol has been engineered initially for flexible polyurethane foam intended for use in mattresses and upholstered furniture. In terms of quality, the foam achieves at least the same high standards as conventional material produced using only petrochemical raw materials, i.e. crude oil.
The company has invested some EUR 15 million in the new plant, which has an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons. The CO2 used is a waste product from a neighboring chemical company.
Covestro Deutschland AG
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