Dead dog brought to life
The innovative CO₂ technology
Low-energy, inert, “dead dog” – in the language of chemists, CO₂ does not get off on the best foot. And in actual fact it is not easy to do anything chemical with the molecule. To get it to react, lots of energy must normally be supplied – which is neither environmentally nor economically sensible. Over the past few years, however, this has changed thanks to a very special catalyst developed by Covestro together with its partners.
This is what proved to be the scientific breakthrough. CO₂ can now finally be used in a sensible manner for plastics production. Covestro also operates a special production facility in its location in Dormagen near Cologne. A so-called polyol, the main preliminary product for polyurethane plastics such as foams and binders, is manufactured here using an innovative, patented process. The first delivery was made to the firm Recticel, a major mattress manufacturer, at the end of 2016.
Up to 20 percent CO₂ can be integrated into the polyol. Chemically bound, it cannot escape back into the atmosphere. The CO₂ used here is produced as a by-product from a neighboring chemical company. With a production capacity of 5000 tonnes per year, the plant is very small. It will serve initially to explore the market and further develop the process.
In the long run, Covestro can envision producing such polyols on a large 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.