Our operational segments

Three segments. Countless products. One goal.

Covestro’s core business comprises three segments that produce and continuously advance raw materials for polyurethanes and their derivatives, the premium plastic polycarbonate as well as coatings, adhesives and other specialties. With several thousand different products in their portfolios, our segments work hand in hand to push boundaries for our customers’ success.
Polyol and isocyanate – components for rigid or flexible foam
Covestro produces polyol and isocyanate – components for rigid or flexible foam

Polyurethanes: foam and more

With its largest segment, Polyurethanes (PUR), Covestro is the global leader in the development, production and marketing of polyurethanes, a class of plastics discovered in 1937 at Covestro’s predecessor company in Leverkusen. Since then, the versatile material has found its way into many areas of modern life – be it in the form of soft or rigid foam or as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

Polyurethanes essentially are made from two components, polyol and isocyanate, which Covestro manufactures. Added to the combination of these two are various ingredients or additives.

Our scientists work on ever new components and combinations of these ingredients to bring the final touch to the resulting product. This may be stiffness of soft foams or the size of the foam’s pores, for example.

Applications

Combining polyol with toluene diisocyanate (TDI) results in flexible foams. They are found, for instance, in mattresses, upholstered furniture and automobile seats, making day-to-day life more comfortable.

Reacting polyol with the isocyanate MDI (diphenylmethane diisocyanate) results in a rigid polyurethane foam. It is considered the best-available industrial insulating material and is used in buildings and refrigerators to reduce heating or cooling and thus energy consumption.

Polyurethanes are also used in numerous other applications. Thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) are rather rigid and are found, for example, in ski boots or sports equipment as well as mobile electronic devices.

Key figures
The Polyurethanes segment (PUR) represents roughly half of Covestro's sales. In 2017, the segment contributed EUR 7.7 billion to the company’s EUR 14.1 billion revenue. Covestro was once again one of the top suppliers in the global polyurethane industry in 2017.
Innovations

Innovation and sustainability are at the core of all we do. Our products substitute others that are less sustainable during their use or during their manufacturing.

Although Polyurethanes can be seen as a commodities business, our scientists work on formulations to vary the properties of the final product – resulting in hundreds of combinations that suit almost every need.

In addition, we aim to broaden the raw material base of our products. Since 2016 we have substituted the waste gas CO2 for the fossil based raw materials that are commonly used to manufacture polyols and isocyanates.

In an industrial scale plant at our site in Dormagen, we produce polyols that are made with up to 20 percent CO2 and are used to manufacture mattresses. The production process spares not only fossil raw materials: since the oil doesn’t have to be refined to be used in our process, across the whole life cycle our product needs less energy and has a better carbon footprint.

Polycarbonate granules, composites and semi-finished products manufactured by Covestro
The polycarbonate granules, composites and semi-finished products manufactured by Covestro have become an integral part of everyday life.

Polycarbonates – the allrounder

Thanks to its many good properties, the plastic polycarbonate has been an ongoing success story ever since it was discovered in 1953 in what is today Covestro’s Uerdingen site. Our Polycarbonates (PCS) segment leads the development of this lightweight, transparent, virtually unbreakable and easy-to-shape material. Primarily sold under the brand name Makrolon® by Covestro, the premium plastic is an excellent substitute for materials such as glass.

Applications

Polycarbonate is used in numerous automotive components, including panoramic roofs, rear spoilers and headlights. It primarily contributes to reducing weight, being around 50 percent lighter than glass. That’s important because every gram saved reduces fuel consumption or increases the battery life of electric cars.

Because of these features, we expect the share of Covestro materials in vehicles to rise from 4-5 kilograms in conventional cars to 20-25 kilograms in electric vehicles. As well as its weight advantage, polycarbonate offers design freedom so car designers can go beyond what’s currently possible with conventional materials.

In addition, polycarbonate is used in the electronics industry, where it makes laptops ultra-lightweight and is found in many other high-tech devices, such as smartphones, tablets and televisions. Because it is transparent, durable and easily sterilized, polycarbonate also plays an important role in medical equipment such as dialysis machines.

Key figures
Covestro’s PCS segment posted sales of EUR 3.7 billion in 2017, equivalent to roughly 26 percent of total sales. With a market share of 29 percent, Covestro is the leader on the global market.
Innovations

With Continuous Fiber-Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites, we developed a solution that could very well substitute metal at a fraction of its weight. It sounds and feels like metal, but offers the design freedom of plastics. That makes it perfect for mobile devices or light and thin laptops, without compromising the aesthetics. It might as well be used in structural parts of cars – greatly reducing the weight without disadvantages in stability and safety.

Raw materials for Coatings, Adhesives and Specialties from Covestro protect surfaces of cars, container ships, buildings and more.
The raw materials for Coatings, Adhesives and Specialties from Covestro protect container ships from the extreme conditions encountered on the open seas.

Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties – for that special, final touch

The Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties (CAS) segment of Covestro develops and supplies substances that make end products more attractive and durable, enhance their value and give them that special, final touch. At the same time the materials often bring a productivity boost with them by reduced curing times, faster processing or less solvent demand. What makes CAS stand out from the competition is its distinctive business approach: we develop our solutions not just for, but together with our clients along the entire value chain to make the world a brighter place.

Applications

With raw materials from Covestro, automotive coatings stay glossy longer, are scratch and weather resistant and can even heal themselves.

Flooring in private homes and industrial buildings are tougher when protected by polyurethane coatings. For the wood and furniture industry, Covestro makes impregnating products and components for bonding products.

Container ships are protected by coatings against extreme conditions on the open seas. Shoes are held together by adhesives based on CAS products, and personal identification cards offer greater security thanks to CAS coatings and films.

The raw materials of this segment are useful even in the medical segment, for instance in wound dressings that hold better, are more comfortable to wear and can even integrate electronic functions.

Key figures
CAS is the smallest Covestro segment based on its sales of EUR 2.1 billion in 2017. It comprises approximately 15 percent of total sales. Nevertheless, Covestro takes a leading position in this business, supplying over 2,300 products to more than 4,300 customers worldwide.
Innovations

Our innovations for example solve the speed-appearance dilemma of coatings by reducing the curing temperature below 100° C, thus increasing curing speed without compromising the appearance.

Our scientists also enable the production of a coating hardener made from 70% biomass, and reduce the drying temperature of coatings so much that up to 15% of the energy needed in the process is saved.