People traveling by car to Covestro in Dormagen can easily miss the plant entrance. First-time visitors to the site are magically drawn by the docks and river landscape on the side of the road. The Dormagen site is located directly on the Rhine River in the industrial heart of western Germany.
One glance too many at this impressive scenery, and drivers will miss the turn into the visitor’s entrance. Even some of the good 1,300 employees have done so!
Once they enter plant grounds, many of them daily cross the bridge over the railroad tracks that divide the area. On both sides, employees are busy every day with manufacturing, research and development on an area covering 24 hectares.
One area of concentration at the site is the production of the raw material toluene diisocynate (TDI), which is needed for flexible polyurethane foam. The state-of-the-art, industrial-scale TDI plant has a production capacity of 300,000 metric tons per year. Thanks to an innovative technology developed by the company, the new facility marks a new milestone in terms of efficiency and environmental compatibility.
One specific polyurethane dispersion is used in delicate doses for applications in cosmetics, such as hair care and skin care products. But it was hardly imaginable in the early days that substances of this kind would ever be the focus of activity in Dormagen, because it all began with the production of sulfuric and picric acid, which the Bayer Group launched in 1917, at the “Bayerwerk Dormagen,” as it was then called.
Start in the Golden Twenties
Bayer introduced a copper rayon to the market in 1926, which cut the cost of producing silk stockings. Thanks to these innovations, panty hose became affordable for everyone. The company later enjoyed great success with the production of various synthetic fibers. It gradually became apparent that the Dormagen site would be dedicated in part to the beautiful things in life, helping modern women to attain more volume for their hair and silky smooth skin. The plastics business was transferred to a separate company, Covestro, in 2015.
Entirely different materials are the focus just a few buildings away. Employees in the Specialty Films plant spend their time on super thin films that can simultaneously fulfill multiple functions. They are used for such things as ID cards and driver licenses. Many other potential applications also are under study at the Covestro site in Dormagen.
A warm spot for feathered friends
But the site has a lot more to offer than just important industrial facilities. Anyone more interested in animals than chemistry will be drawn to some special residents in the Chemical Park. Peregrine falcons nest high above the ground. Fortunately, there is a safe distance between them and the employees, as these predatory birds command respect when it comes to protecting their young. The birds nest here every spring, attracted by the pleasant warmth radiated by the pipes.