The innovative CO? technology
Low-energy, inert CO? is not making things easy for chemists. To set the molecule in motion, 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 RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalytic Center there.
This is what proved to be the scientific breakthrough. CO? 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 CO? can be integrated into the polyol. Chemically bound, it cannot escape back into the atmosphere. The CO? comes from the exhaust gas stream of a neighboring chemical plant. With a production capacity of 5000 tonnes per year, Covestro’s 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 CO? as possible in production and produce as many types of plastics as possible with it.