Circular economy: Intelligent and versatile use of carbon

Greenhouse gas is becoming a useful raw material

Crude oil is the world‘s lubricant – still. But oil reserves are limited, and its use damages the climate. Covestro has broken new ground: using CO₂ instead of oil in plastics production. The first products with CO₂ are already on the market. And numerous projects in the pipeline.

Successfull Research and Development

It took Covestro a whole eight years to achieve this breakthrough: Together with partners from industry and science, Covestro has succeeded in using CO₂ as a raw material for the production of plastics. With this innovative technology, a main component of polyurethane foam for mattresses and furniture is now being produced. This novel precursor polyol with the brand name cardyon® contains up to 20 percent CO₂ instead of the conventional petroleum-based raw material propylene oxide. Covestro is thus breaking new ground in broadening the resource base of the chemical industry and promoting recycling.

Reactor in the Dormagen plant
At this production plant in Dormagen, Covestro incorporates up to 20 percent CO₂ into an important plastic component.

Polyol plant is located in Dormagen, Germany

For Covestro, the focus is on maintenance and expansion, efficient processes and targeted investments in capacities.

At the Dormagen site near Cologne, for example, a plant for the production of CO₂-based polyols was built at the end of 2014, where cardyon® is also produced. With an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons, it is in operation since the end of 2016.

And Covestro still has a lot to do with carbon dioxide. The goal is to use carbon intelligently and efficiently in order to avoid using crude oil in the production of plastics as much as possible. Covestro is thus making an important contribution to the circular economy, as CO₂ is returned to the value chain. Covestro thus supports the goals for sustainable development (SDGs) proclaimed by the United Nations.

CO2 as an all-round talent

CO₂ – a new resource for sustainable plastics

Covestro can already announce first successes. cardyon® is used in a soft foam for mattresses and in a binder for sports floorings. For example, a hockey field was inaugurated in Krefeld by the end of 2018, where cardyon® was used for the flooring. Another product suitable for everyday use that is already on the verge of market maturity: textile fibers with CO₂.

And the pipeline is well filled: In the "Production Dreams" research project, Covestro is working on using CO₂ in elastomers on an industrial scale. Around 25 percent of crude oil could thus be replaced by CO₂ in the elastically deformable plastics.

Insulating materials or car seats could be produced with the help of a special polyol for rigid polyurethane foam and additives containing up to 20 percent CO₂. This project is called "Dream Resource".

Covestro is also conducting cross-industry research: With "Carbon4PUR", a consortium across Europe is investigating the extent to which exhaust gases from steel furnaces, such as CO₂, can be used to produce plastics.