CO₂ as a raw material

Beyond Carbon

Carbon Dioxide is revolutionizing plastics production

What sounded like a fairy tale for decades is now reality: Carbon dioxide can be turned into plastic; climate-damaging CO₂ is becoming a valuable raw material. The best thing about it: The new method replaces much of the petroleum previously used to manufacture plastic. Researchers around the world had been working in vain for years to make it possible. Now, this advancement can justifiably be called a revolution in industrial production. For Covestro, it is a big step towards a more sustainable future that makes the world a brighter place.

"We are making a dream come true. Soon people can buy the first products made from CO₂ foam, such as mattresses."
Dr. Berit Stange, Venture Manager / Covestro

How a catalyst pushes boundaries

Totally rethinking sustainability

A nondescript, white powder is the catalyst that makes the chemical reaction with CO2 possible. Thanks to the catalyst, the inert carbon dioxide molecule can finally be put to practical use. Packed inside this powder are years of intensive research by Covestro and its partners – and the courage to think beyond existing boundaries.

For markets and consumers, it is no less than an ecological and economical revolution that will affect their entire world. CO2 will become a part of our everyday lives as a useful and sustainable raw material. Soon, the first mattresses and upholstered furniture made with the CO2-based foam are to come out on the market, made possible by the innovative force of Covestro.

And they’re just the beginning, because Covestro has a lot of other ideas for using this climate killer in products typical to modern life. One example is the first elastomers manufactured with CO2. They can be used, for instance, to fabricate seals and hoses for motor vehicles.

"I am proud that Recticel and Covestro are partners on this exciting journey to create more sustainable chemical building blocks."
Olivier Chapelle, CEO Recticel

Foams for more sustainable dreams

Market premiere for cardyon™ – First mattress made of CO2

A sound sleep on a sustainable mattress: For the first time, the flexible polyurethane foam inside is made partially from carbon dioxide. One of the central components is an innovative polyol called cardyon™ with a CO2-content of 20 percent, which is safely bound in the material.

Belgian manufacturer Recticel launched the first products on the market end of 2016. They are a true innovation, which also stand for the good feeling of having made an important contribution to saving the environment. Many other manufacturers are very interested in the new product cardyon™ and the CO₂ technology as well.

With its technology, Covestro is setting new standards in a growth market: 15 million tons of polyurethane currently are used every year around the world. According to experts, production will increase annually by four percent through the year 2020.

More information

cardyon™ – a brighter use of CO2

Sustainable life-cycle thinking and acting is imperative to preserve our planet and improve the quality and safety of the lives of millions of people in underserved markets. Covestro has set ambitious sustainability targets for meeting the 2025 UN SDGs. To attain these targets, we are aligning every facet of the company with sustainability.

The first production plant in Dormagen

How CO₂ technology works

Cardyon Technologie

The new material comes from a production plant of Covestro, near Cologne, where the industrial production of cardyon™ started in 2016. The core element of the new process is a 25-metric-ton chemical reactor and systems for processing the CO2-based polyol.

  • With the innovative technology, Covestro incorporates up to 20 percent carbon dioxide into the novel polyol, a component for flexible foams, for example. The CO2 is chemically bound and not released again into the atmosphere. If the polyol is brought together with isocyanate, the two react to form a premium, flexible polyurethane foam. The quality is at least on par with the conventional material, comprised entirely of fossil resources.

  • Since June 2016, Covestro has been operating its own production plant for the innovative polyols at its site in Dormagen, Germany. It has an annual capacity of 5,000 metric tons. The CO2 processed is a waste product from a neighboring chemical facility.

  • Flexible polyurethane foam based on CO2 is only the beginning. Covestro is working intensively with its partners on using CO2 in many other plastics. Our vision is to develop a broad range of applications with CO2-based polyurethane materials. Imagine new CO2-based polyurethanes in cars, for instance, or in the form of innovative elastomers used to fabricate seals.

Science and Business working together

The work of Covestro to advance its technologies is not restricted to its own laboratories, rather the company collaborates with various partners, in this case RWTH Aachen University of Technology. Because one thing is certain: Science and business must work hand-in-hand in CO2 research if they want to push existing boundaries.

Because good work is rewarded

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

Please read more on our cardyon™ page

More stories

Turning CO2 into a raw material for the production of high quality foams is just one of the many ways that we push boundaries. Follow the links below to discover more about our commitment to make the world a brighter place.
Covestro materials open new horizons – in the air and on the ground.
Polycarbonates from Covestro take the design and efficiency of motor vehicles to a whole new level.
Covestro helps to make wind power more economical.
An overview of all highlight stories.
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