Covestro innovations make the difference
Plastics are true “enablers”. Thanks to their flexibility and adaptability, companies from various industries are able to find answers to the major challenges of our time – from growing mobility to increasing urbanization and climate change. Millions of people worldwide benefit from plastics every day.
For years, Covestro has been at the forefront of plastics development. Flagships such as polycarbonate and polyurethane have dominated the market for many decades. Innovative material solutions from Covestro often make all the difference, for example, in battery cells for electric cars or in the insulation of buildings. Thanks to the versatility of high-performance materials from Covestro, designers are able to let their creativity run free – for example, in growth sectors such as the automotive or electrical and electronics industries.
Innovation is embedded in Covestro’s DNA and is fostered by the company's unique values – curious, courageous and colorful. Trend-setting ideas, groundbreaking solutions, and innovative products are often the result of teamwork. Since June 2019, employees have had the opportunity to discuss their ideas on the digital platform “idea.lounge”. Covestro intensively cultivates the principle of “open innovation” both inside and outside the company.
The goal is to fully exploit the innovation potential within the company. This also includes the German sites. To this end, the more than 7,600 employees in Germany are to become true innovators and be able to fully live out their entrepreneurial spirit. Covestro has created the perfect conditions to turn this into a reality. One example is the Covestro Start-up-Challenge. New approaches should not only advance classic research and development, but also further improve company organization, working life, and the workflow in project teams.
Award-winning innovations from Germany
In Germany, Covestro has received various awards for its innovations. You can find out more here:
A research team has succeeded in producing aniline from plants. The substance is considered a true all-rounder in chemistry. It forms the basis for many everyday objects – such as synthetic fibers, dyes, and medicines. Together with partners, Covestro has developed a process for the climate-friendly production of aniline from biomass at its site in Leverkusen.
So far, aniline has been derived from crude oil. But this is where it gets complicated: The fossil raw material is not only finite, but is also subject to strong market fluctuations and its processing releases climate-damaging CO₂. The chemical industry must therefore develop environmentally friendly alternatives to the production of aniline. The latest breakthrough is a first important step in the right direction.
Covestro was honored for this achievement with an innovation award from the Federal Government of Germany and the German industry. The award went to a team consisting of representatives from Covestro, Bayer, the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen, and the University of Stuttgart. The partners are now working on transferring the process to larger technical scales.
Replacing crude oil with CO₂ in plastics production? A new process from Covestro makes it possible. The company has thus succeeded in doing something that generations of chemists have only dreamed of. In 2019, the innovative Dream Production was a finalist for the renowned German Future Prize, which is awarded by the Federal President. The award is presented every year for outstanding achievements in technology and natural sciences, which lead to products that are ready for application.
The innovative process uses CO₂ as a new raw material in plastics production. This makes it possible to save fossil raw materials such as crude oil. Covestro tested the process for the first time in a specially constructed pilot plant in Leverkusen in 2011. Four years later, the first plant was built at the site in Dormagen. Since then, CO₂-based polyols have been industrially produced there. They are used in the production of mattresses, upholstered furniture, and sports flooring.
Employees play a key in the development of innovations at Covestro. At the site in Brunsbüttel, three trainees received awards for their concept to optimize the company’s own steam generator. In 2018, they received the Responsible Care Award from the Northern Regional Association of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI).
The new process significantly reduces the use of valuable resources. Thanks to the technical modification, Covestro now emits approximately six tons less CO₂ each year at its site in Schleswig-Holstein than in the past. An additional benefit: The company saves large amounts of drinking water. 600,000 liters to be exact. That’s as much as three four-person households consume in one year.
In 2020, the site in Brunsbüttel finished in second place for the Responsible Care Award. Covestro received the award for its sophisticated online analysis system that enables the thermal and material use of steam condensates from several plants. This also saves valuable resources. Depending on production capacity utilization, up to 500,000 cubic meters less drinking water per year will be needed in the future thanks to the online process for steam generation. Another innovative idea that promotes the sustainable use of water at Covestro Brunsbüttel Industrial Park.
Developing new solutions together and driving them forward successfully as a team: This is the formula for pushing boundaries. Covestro promotes creative thinking and the inventiveness of its employees. The company therefore received the special prize "Best Innovation Culture" of the Corporate Culture Award. The Serviceplan Group, culture analyst Deep White, HR consultancy Promerit and the ZEIT publishing group expressly recognized the commitment of Covestro employees.
Five winners were selected from the more than 150 participants. Covestro’s innovation-driven, cross-border approach was decisive for the award. The company has been organizing an internal start-up competition for several years. The prize for the winning team is that they are relieved from their regular responsibilities to dedicate their time to their business idea in order to put it into practice – with financial support from Covestro. More than 500 international business ideas were submitted to this first “Covestro Start-up Challenge”.
Based on the principle of “open innovation”, Covestro also promotes cooperation with external partners from industry and science in Germany. Among other things, the company is intensively committed to cooperation with start-ups. Together with the Technical University of Berlin and DECHEMA Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Covestro has been presenting the Resource Innovator Award to entrepreneurs with promising business ideas for some time.
Covestro was also a partner of the University Innovation Challenge. The award was initiated by the business newspaper Handelsblatt and Goethe University Frankfurt. As member of the jury, Covestro honored young entrepreneurs with ideas for innovative, sustainable materials.
Innovations at the Covestro sites in Germany
Covestro works continuously to develop new material solutions and optimize established production processes. You can find out more about Covestro’s innovative projects here: