The innovative CO₂ technology
Low-energy, inert CO₂ is a challenge for chemists. To set the molecule in motion, normally lots of energy must be supplied – which is neither environmentally nor economically sustainable. Over the past few years, however, this has changed thanks to a very special catalyst developed by Covestro together with RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalytic Center.
This catalyst has proved to be the scientific breakthrough: CO₂ can now finally be used in a truly eco-friendly manner for plastic production! At its location in Dormagen near Cologne, Covestro uses this innovative, patented process to produce CO₂- based polyols, the main preliminary product for polyurethane plastics. The first delivery of these polyols was made to the firm Recticel, a major mattress manufacturer, at the end of 2016.
Up to 20 percent CO₂ can be integrated into polyols. Covestro sources this carbon from the exhaust gas of a neighboring chemical plant. After this gas is incorporated into the polyols, the carbon dioxide cannot escape back into the atmosphere because it is chemically bound. With a production capacity of 5000 tons per year, the CO₂ -based polyol plant of Covestro is very small, and it will serve initially to explore the market and further develop the process.
In the future, Covestro aims to produce polyols on a larger scale. After all, the company wants to use as much CO₂ as possible in production and produce as many types of plastics as possible with it.