dcsimg Covestro – Company history

Roots stretch back to the beginning of the 20th century

Always innovative

Ground-breaking inventions, trendsetting products and a wealth of experience in the development and production of high-tech polymers characterize Covestro.

Strictly speaking, the company is still young. Covestro was established as a legally independent company in 2015. In fact, the company’s business activities extend back to the early part of the 20th century, for Covestro — formerly Bayer MaterialScience — arose from the Bayer Group’s chemicals and plastics unit.


1906 Initial research into the synthesis of rubber

1906 Research work on the synthesis of rubber

Bayer chemist Fritz Hoffmann starts to synthesize rubber. In 1910, the manufacturer Continental produces the first car tire made of methyl rubber. German emperor William II is one of the first to make use of it.


1937 Otto Bayer discovers polyurethanes

1937 Otto Bayer discovers polyurethanes
The invention by the chemist — who is not related to the family that founded the Bayer Group — revolutionizes the chemical industry, but his discovery is by chance. After mixing two chemical substances, Otto Bayer succeeds in synthesizing the first polyurethane foam. Initially nobody has an idea what it can be used for, and it will take another ten years of development work before customized materials can be manufactured from polyurethanes.

1953 Hermann Schnell discovers polycarbonate

1953 Hermann Schnell discovers polycarbonate
The Bayer chemist, working at the Group’s Central Scientific Laboratory in Krefeld-Uerdingen, succeeds in synthesizing polycarbonate more or less at the first attempt. The event passes almost unnoticed, except in specialist circles. But just five years later, Bayer will begin producing the transparent and versatile plastic, known by its brand name Makrolon®, on an industrial scale.

1957 Bayer completes switch to petrochemistry

1957 Bayer completes switch to petrochemistry
Bayer joins with Deutsche BP to found Erdölchemie GmbH in Dormagen, successfully entering the petrochemicals sector.

1959 Chemistry in fashion

1959 Chemistry in fashion
Moltopren®, a lightweight flexible foam, was presented to the public in 1952 as an ideal material for upholstered furniture. It will soon be adopted by the fashion industry for garment processing.

1962 Rigid foam in the cooling chain

1962 Rigid foam in the cooling chain
Polyurethane rigid foam is launched as insulation material for cooling devices.  This helps to considerably increase the energy efficiency of refrigerators.

1963: Makrolon® conquers kitchens and camping sites

1963: Makrolon® conquers kitchens and camping sites
At the plastics fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, visitors are fascinated by the lightweight plates, cups, dishes and bowls made of this shatterproof plastic that are increasingly finding its way into kitchen and caravans.

1967 K67 is world’s first all-plastic car

1967 K67 is world’s first all-plastic car
The sports car that Bayer presents at the plastics fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, is made almost entirely from various kinds of plastics. Only the engine, gearbox and wheels are of metal. Today, plastics make up about 15 percent of the weight of an average car – a figure that continues to rise.

1982 Birth of the audio CD

1982 Birth of the audio CD
On August 17, PolyGram begins large-scale production of the first compact disc (of classical music). For this purpose, Bayer had developed a special grade of Makrolon® that is still used today as the base material for all optical storage media.

1982 First Makrolon® automobile headlamp

1982 First Makrolon® automobile headlamp
For decades, car headlamps were made of glass. From the 1980s the transparent high-performance plastic Markolon® has become the material of choice – being lightweight, tough and easy to shape. The trend began in the United States and Japan and came to Europe in the 1990s. Some of the modern headlamps that fit so harmoniously into the complex contours of the body would be impossible to manufacture from glass.

2000 Bayer becomes world leader for polyurethane raw materials

2000 Number one in polyurethane raw materials
Bayer acquires part of U.S.-based Lyondell Chemical Company. This move makes the German group and later Bayer MaterialScience the world’s biggest producer of raw materials for polyurethanes.

2001 Groundbreaking at the Shanghai production site

2001 Groundbreaking in Shanghai
The Bayer Integrated Site Shanghai in China is built on a former rice field. Today the vast area is home to state-of-the-art production plants for plastics and for precursors used in the manufacture of foams and coatings. The site is a focus of investment at Bayer MaterialScience.

2004 Bayer MaterialScience AG established as an independent subgroup

2004 Bayer MaterialScience AG becomes independent subgroup
The company gains legal independence as part of a reorganization of the Bayer Group. The process started in 2002 when Bayer CropScience AG was launched as the first legally independent subgroup.

2005 Bayer transfers chemical activities to Lanxess

2005 Chemical activities partly transferred to Lanxess
Publicly owned Lanxess AG is spun off from the Bayer Group on January 28, continuing its rubber activities and parts of Bayer’s chemicals business. The name “Lanxess” is a combination of the French word “lancer” (meaning “to launch”) and the English word “success.”

2007 Patrick Thomas named CEO of Bayer MaterialScience

2007 Patrick Thomas named Chairman on the Board of Management of Bayer MaterialScience
Effective January 1, Patrick W. Thomas becomes Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer MaterialScience AG, which he joined in 2006. Prior to that, Thomas had held a number of senior management positions in the chemicals industry. Born in 1957, the UK native graduated from Oxford University with an engineering degree.

2010 New investment program to expand presence in China

2010 Expansion of business in China
Beginning in 2010 the company is investing about another EUR 1 billion to expand its facilities at the site in Shanghai, China. Production capacities are to be more than doubled as a result. Including the expansion, the total investment in the site amounts to more than EUR 3 billion. In addition, the headquarters of the Polycarbonates Business Unit is being transferred from Leverkusen to Shanghai.

2014 Opening of the TDI plant
A state-of-the-art, large-scale plant for the particularly eco-friendly production of the polyurethane component TDI is brought on stream in Dormagen, bringing one of the most important capital expenditure projects of the last decade to a successful conclusion.

2014 CO2 as new raw material
Bayer MaterialScience plans to use carbon dioxide as a new raw material for the production of high-quality foams and is building a production line for this purpose at the site in Dormagen, Germany. A three-year research and testing phase showed that the new process works and that the CO2-based materials have the same high quality as products produced using conventional methods.

2015 New company
On September 1, Bayer MaterialScience became a separate legal entity operating under the name Covestro. The headquarters will remain at the Leverkusen site.