Production line at Dormagen site under construction

CO2 Project

Carbon dioxide: Tremendous amounts of it are emitted by automobiles, factories and power plants. But CO2 is not just a climate-damaging exhaust gas. It can also be used as a raw material. Covestro has developed a process for using CO2 to produce high-quality plastics. The company is building a production line for this process in Dormagen that will commence operation in 2016.
Covestro Polyurethane foam
Familiar material, new ingredient: Polyurethane foam can now be manufactured also with CO₂.
Covestro’s focus is on efficiency and sustainability, which is why the company is committed to the maintenance and expansion of its production facilities, efficient processes and targeted investments in capacity.

The company is investing in the construction of a production line for CO2-based polyols at its Dormagen site as part of the Dream Production project. CO2 will be used here to replace a portion of the conventional raw materials such as petroleum derivatives.

Another example of a major capital investment project is the erection of a new world-scale plant in Dormagen for the production of TDI, a polyurethane precursor. This plant, which went on stream in late 2014, is the basis for future optimizations at the Dormagen and Brunsbüttel sites.

As part of another project, a carbon monoxide pipeline will connect the site in North Rhine-Westphalia to the nearby plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen. The pipeline has already been laid, but has not yet been placed into operation due to a legal dispute.

The company engages in joint research projects with leading German universities and scientific institutions. One of its partners is the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen, which is operated jointly by the university there and Covestro.
It has recently become feasible to use CO2 for the production of polyols. These chemical building blocks are used in turn for the production of polyurethanes – high-grade foams that are found in numerous everyday items such as upholstery, sports equipment and automotive components.

Polyols and polyurethanes are normally based on petroleum. Now, however, part of the scarce petroleum is being replaced by CO2, which also contains the key element carbon. The new process thus supports a transformation of the raw material basis and contributes to sustainability.

The technology would not have been possible if researchers of Covestro in collaboration with CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen had not succeeded in finding a suitable catalyst and developing it further in collaboration. It enables the efficient reaction of CO2, which is normally slow to react. Intensive tests have shown that polyols and polyurethanes based on CO2 are at least as good as conventional products.

Investment of EUR 15 million

Covestro has therefore decided to pursue commercial utilization. A production line for CO2-based polyols with an annual capacity of 5,000 tons is being built at the Dormagen site as part of the Dream Production project. The investment amounts to some EUR 15 million.

The permitting process was conducted in accordance with Germany’s Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG), with participation by the public. Covestro and Currenta, the operator of the chemical park in Dormagen, went beyond their statutory obligations to proactively provide timely information about the project.

Construction started in 2015. In May a major part of the production line – a custom made chemical reactor – has been put in place. “If everything continues to run smoothly we will be able to start operations as planned in 2016”, says Dr. Karsten Malsch, overall project manager. The innovative polyol will be used initially for the production of flexible foam for mattresses.

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