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      CO₂ as a raw material

      CO₂ replaces oil in plastics

      On the way to becoming an all-rounder

      Sleep on CO₂? Absolutely! Walk on CO₂? Not a problem either. Even getting dressed with CO₂ will soon be a possibility. Plastic products manufactured from carbon dioxide are now being used in an increasing number of everyday applications. The greenhouse gas is finally on its way to becoming a useful material, thanks to a revolutionary process that Covestro and its partners have developed. The big advantage? The technology allows crude oil, the conventional raw material of the chemical and plastics industries, to be substituted with CO₂. It's an innovative contribution to resource efficiency and a circular economy.

      "Mattresses, sports floors, clothing – CO₂ is becoming a sustainable raw material in everyday life. I'm sure we'll be seeing more applications here".
      Dr. Persefoni Hilken, Covestro project manager
      Click to read more about innovative materials

      Fit with CO₂

      The next steps in the use of carbon dioxide

      It all started with soft foam for mattresses. But another step from the laboratory to the market was recently taken: CO₂ is now being used as a raw material in the sports sector. More precisely, as a component of the new binder for sports subfloors developed by Covestro. At the end of 2018, the world's first subfloor of this kind was installed on a renowned hockey team’s field in Krefeld. At the hockey facility, Covestro rolled out a new, bright blue artificial turf that was manufactured using carbon as a binding agent.

      The main components for the binding agent contain up to 20 percent carbon dioxide. This means crude oil is saved, and the raw material base of Covestro is extended. The new carbon-based preliminary product is called cardyon® and is manufactured at the Covestro site in Dormagen near Cologne. After its initial manufacturing, cardyon® is sent for further processing to the sports flooring manufacturer Polytan, which is part of the Sport Group.

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      At RWTH Aachen University, a team is working on another area of application: Manufacturing synthetic fibers from carbon dioxide. And this application is almost market-ready! Together with colleagues from the Technical University of Berlin and Covestro experts, the researchers in Aachen have succeeded in mass producing high-performance fibers and processing them to create their first garments. As a result of their innovative work, the team has reached the finals for the German President's Award.

      More information

      Press release on sports floors with CO₂
      Press release on fibers with CO₂

      “Our team has made it into the final round of the 2019 German President’s Award with its innovative technology for the use of CO₂ as a raw material. We congratulate them on this success!”
      Professor Walter Leitner (RWTH Aachen University), Dr. Christoph Gürtler and Dr. Berit Stange (both Covestro) (from left).
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      Away from oil

      CO2 use gaining worldwide momentum

      Covestro isn't just driving forward its own developments related to the use of carbon dioxide; the company is also supporting others in realizing innovative ideas. For example, Covestro sponsored the new innovation prize “Best CO₂ utilization 2019” awarded by the renowned nova Institute. At the first awards ceremony, three young companies from Canada, Norway and Germany were honored. These three winners manufacture fuel, chemicals and even concrete from carbon dioxide. This innovation prize shows that a new mindset is emerging on a global scale, one that sees climate-change causing carbon as an opportunity, rather than a liability.

      Concrete made from CO₂

      The Canadian company Carbicrete has developed a process that allows concrete to be manufactured without using cement – an achievement that helped them take first place in the race to win the nova prize. Carbicrete’s manufacturing process replaces cement with ground steel slag, and the mixture is then hardened using CO₂ instead of heat and steam. The new product is more cost effective, of higher quality and more sustainable than concrete with a cement basis.

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      Fuel made from CO₂

      The Norwegian company Nordic Blue Crude produces synthetic crude oil from CO₂, water and renewable energies. This oil can be used as diesel or kerosene and processed into petrol. For their innovative work, Nordic Blue Crude achieved second place at the awards.

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      Chemicals made from CO₂

      The German company b.fab has developed a process to efficiently convert CO₂, water and renewable energies into value-added chemicals such as lactic acid. This earned b.fab third place at the Covestro-sponsored competition.

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      Berlin summit expects great potential

      Finding alternatives to crude oil is not just an issue for industry. Politics, science and society are also beginning to recognize the value. This was the conclusion of the second Raw Materials Summit that took place at the Technical University of Berlin in summer 2018, organized by Covestro under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Research. Participants explored possibilities to further advance non-fossil fuel resources such as CO₂ and plants to make chemistry more sustainable and climate-friendly. Young companies in particular contributed to this topic. At the summit, five startups from three continents were selected as "2018 Resource Innovators."

      The third Raw Materials Summit is scheduled for November 25, 2019 in Berlin, and the theme is "Carbon in the circular economy."

      More information

      Press release about the CO₂ innovation prize
      Press release about the Raw Materials Summit 2018
      Press release about the Resource Innovators 2018

      To preserve the earth and improve the quality and safety of the lives of millions of people, particularly in underserved regions, we need to think and act in a sustainable manner.

      In this respect, Covestro is guided by the goals of the United Nations for Sustainable Development (SDG). The company bases its research and development in particular on these global goals.

      Energizing molecules

      The innovative CO₂ technology

      Cardyon® Technologie

      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.

      Teamwork is the main thing

      Covestro believes working together across industries and beyond borders is the path to success. This is illustrated by Carbon4PUR, a research project that links 14 partners across Europe and is managed by Covestro. The aim: To develop a new technology to use emissions from steelworks, such as CO₂ and carbon monoxide, in plastics production.

      More information

      Website about Carbon4PUR
      Press release about Carbon4PUR

      Because good things are rewarded:

      Covestro has received a number of national and international prizes for its new CO₂ technology.

      Please read more on our cardyon® page

      Additional stories

      The fact that we transform CO2 into a raw material from which high-quality plastics can be produced is just one example of how we are pushing the limits. Follow the links below to find out more about our commitment to making the world a better place to live.
      Innovative materials for the city of the future.
      Covestro helps to make wind power more cost effective.
      Our understanding of sustainability doesn‘t end at the factory gates.
      An overview of all highlight stories.
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