Within the chemicals industry, aniline has multiple talents. It is used as a base e.g., in the manufacture of medicines, dyes and plastics. Covestro needs aniline for the production of MDI, a main component in insulating foams. When it comes to the formulation of aniline, we are now able to derive it completely from renewable raw materials for the first time – a breakthrough.
The industry currently derives aniline from benzene, a petroleum-based raw material. However, industrial sugar, which is already derived on large scale as a renewable raw material from, for example, feed corn, straw and wood, can be used instead. The newly developed process uses a microorganism as a catalyst to first convert the industrial sugar into a precursor. The aniline is then derived by means of chemical catalysis in a second step. One hundred percent of the carbon contained in aniline thus comes from renewable raw materials.
This breakthrough enables a clear improvement in the CO2 footprint of the production process, both with us and in our customers’ plants. The new process also brings direct economic benefits because a broader base of raw materials helps manufacturers to be more independent of the fluctuations of the market. And in a responsible way: the manufacturing of bio-based aniline does not compete directly with food production because the technology only requires a small cultivation area, even when it comes to powering larger plants.