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      CO₂ as a raw material

      Carbon dioxide replaces petroleum in plastics and synthetics

      On the way to becoming a jack of all trades

      Sleep on carbon dioxide? Absolutely! Run on CO₂? Not a problem either. Even dressing up with the gas will likely soon be possible. Bound in plastic or synthetic material, carbon dioxide will find its way into many products of our everyday life. The greenhouse gas is well on its way to becoming a useful raw material - out of the air and into useful products. This is the result of a revolutionary process that we developed together with our partner RWTH Aachen and for which we have received many awards. It is more than a purely technical innovation in plastics and synthetics production - it conserves fossil fuels such as crude oil and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. This is a real contribution to the efficient use of resources, climate protection and recycling.

      "We are very happy that we made it to the final round. The idea behind CO₂ innovation fits in perfectly with the times: Fossil sources such as crude oil can no longer be the industry’s central resource if the world is heading towards a future that is low in greenhouse gases."
      Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann
      More about the German President’s Award

      Fit with CO₂

      The next milestones in the use of carbon dioxide

      It all started with soft foam for mattresses. Recently the next step was taken from the laboratory to the market: Carbon dioxide is now also being used as a raw material in sports. To be more precise, as an ingredient of a binder we have developed for sports subfloors. The premiere took place at the end of 2018 on the premises of a renowned hockey team in Krefeld. There you can now find a bright blue artificial turf on a substrate made of rubber granulate and the binder containing carbon dioxide.

      The decisive component for the binder contains up to 20 percent carbon dioxide. That means: oil is saved in this order of magnitude and environmental pollution is reduced in the broadest sense. We were also able to use the binder to broaden our raw material base. The new CO₂-based pre-product called cardyon® is manufactured at our site in Dormagen, from where it is sent for further processing to Polytan, a sports flooring manufacturer belonging to the Sport Group.

      Find out more about foams!

      Meanwhile RWTH Aachen University is working on the production of synthetic fibers with carbon dioxide. The topic is standing at the threshold to market readiness: Together with colleagues from the Technical University of Berlin and our experts, the researchers in Aachen have succeeded in producing high-performance fibers on a large scale and is processing them into their first garments.

      More information

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

      “Mattresses, sports floors, clothing - carbon dioxide 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
      Discover innovative materials for mattresses

      Moving away from oil

      Intelligent use of carbon dioxide gaining momentum

      Not only are we forging ahead against climate change with our own developments. We also support others in implementing their ideas to fight environmental destruction and excessive emissions. For example as sponsor of the new innovation prize "Best CO₂ Utilization 2019", which is awarded by the renowned nova-Institut. At the first award ceremony, three young companies from Canada, Norway and Germany were honored. The whole world is probably interested in their approaches: they can produce fuel, chemicals and even concrete from carbon dioxide. This demonstrates how climate change can be actively countered instead of just reacting. The award shows how important developments in this area have become and how important they are for people and the environment.

      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.

      More about this topic

      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.

      More about this topic

      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.

      More about this topic

      Berlin summit sees good prospects

      Finding alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels - these are not topics for the chemical industry alone. Politics, science and society also see promising potential here. This is the conclusion of the second raw materials summit, which took place in summer 2018 at the Technical University of Berlin - again co-organized by Covestro and under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Research. The participants called for the further development and use of non-fossil resources such as carbon dioxide and plants to make chemistry more climate-friendly. Young companies in particular, with their scientific and technological solutions, could make a major contribution to combating global warming through carbon dioxide. Five start-ups from three continents were selected as "Resource Innovators 2018".

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

      More information

      Press release on the CO₂ Innovation Award
      Press Release 2018 Raw Materials Summit
      Press Release 2018 Resource Innovators

      If we want to preserve our planet and improve the quality of life for millions of people, we need to rethink and act courageously.

      We are guided by the sustainability goals of the United Nations (UNSDG). Our research and development, in particular, is geared to these goals.
      Further Information

      Molecules to cheer you up

      The innovative CO₂ technology

      Cardyon® Technologie

      Low-energy and inert carbon dioxide does not make life easy for chemists. In order to set the molecule in motion a great deal of energy normally has to be supplied, which makes no ecological or economic sense. But things have been different for a few years now. Thanks to an innovative catalyst that we developed together with RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalytic Center based there.

      This is a scientific breakthrough: with the help of the catalyst, carbon dioxide can finally be used sensibly for the production of plastics and synthetics. We operate a special production facility at our site in Dormagen for this purpose. A patented process is used here to produce polyol, a key pre-product for polyurethane plastics such as foams or binders. The first delivery was made to the firm Recticel, a major mattress manufacturer, at the end of 2016.

      Up to 20 percent carbon dioxide can be integrated into the polyol. As solid carbon dioxide, i.e. chemically bound in plastic or synthetics, it cannot re-enter the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide comes from the exhaust gas stream of a neighboring chemical plant. With a production capacity of 5000 metric tons per year, our plant is still quite small. It will serve initially to explore the market and further develop the process.

      In the long term, we can imagine producing polyols on a large scale. After all, not only do we want to help avoid CO₂ emissions, we also want to use as much carbon dioxide as possible to produce plastics and synthetics.

      Teamwork is the main thing

      Working together across industrial and national borders - that is our path to success. This is the case with Carbon4PUR, a research project we lead that brings together 14 partners in Europe. The goal: to develop a new technology to use exhaust gases from steel mills, such as CO₂ and carbon monoxide, for 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 sound out limits. Follow the links to learn more about our commitment to reducing overall CO₂ emissions, avoiding plastic waste, protecting the environment and making our planet a better place to live.
      Alternative Raw Materials
      Biomass, CO₂, used materials, and waste can replace fossil resources.
      Innovative Recycling
      Energy-efficient technologies allow more used products and waste to be recycled.
      Renewable Energy
      Wind and sun: Clean energy must power the Circular Economy.
      Joint Solutions
      Cross-industry collaboration is needed to bring the Circular Economy forward.
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