Bayer MaterialScience, which will become Covestro Sept. 1, will begin production of plastics from waste carbon dioxide at the beginning of 2016.
A new line with a capacity to produce 5,000 metric tons of polyols annually is being finished in Dormagen, Germany, about 12 miles south of Düsseldorf. The project is a federally supported effort to reduce the impact of manufacturing on the creation of greenhouse gases.
The carbon dioxide for the Dormagen plant comes from the Ineos company in Dormagen, where it is generated as a byproduct of ammonia production. The gas is delivered via Yara, a supplier of chemicals based in Norway.
The polyols produced at the plant will be about one-fifth made of the waste carbon dioxide. Initially, the polyols will be used to make polyurethane foam mattresses.
BMS scientists say that testing shows that the CO2-based material is at least as good as conventional products. The carbon dioxide replaces some of the petroleum that these kinds of polyols and polyurethanes are usually based on.
“The plastics industry has long been looking for an alternative raw material basis to relieve the reliance on increasingly scarce fossil fuels,” said Karsten Malsch, project manager. “There is also growing demand for sustainable products in society. “We believe that our new process can offer a solution in both these areas.”
Bayer MaterialScience collaborated with the CAT Catalytic Center, a research institute at Aachen University to find a catalyst that would cause the carbon dioxide, which is chemically very inert, to react efficiently with other substances. The partners discovered the appropriate catalyst.
Covestro hopes to increase the proportion of carbon dioxide in the products in the future, while also expanding plastics made from carbon dioxide.