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Friday - June 17, 2016

Covestro launches industrial production of plastics using carbon dioxide

Premiere for new raw material

Production plant opens in Dormagen / Innovative process helps cut the use of crude oil / Innovative foam components manufactured with 20 percent CO2
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Carbon dioxide as new raw material: At this production plant in Dormagen, Covestro is now incorporating 20 percent CO2 into an important foam component.

Carbon dioxide instead of crude oil – Covestro is now, for the first time, using CO2 to produce plastics on an industrial scale. On Friday, the company opened a production plant for an innovative foam component made with 20 percent CO2 at its Dormagen site near Cologne, Germany. The new process saves a proportional amount of the traditional oil-based raw material, thus making a contribution to sustainability that Covestro believes offers considerable potential.

“We have to change the way we look at CO2, and we will. Using it as an alternative source of raw materials is a solution to some of the biggest challenges of our time – finding a replacement for finite fossil resources such as oil and gas and closing material cycles. Thanks to our innovative process and the launch of our production operations in Dormagen, we see ourselves as a pioneer in this area – true to our vision ‘To make the world a brighter place’,” said Covestro CEO Patrick Thomas at the opening ceremony, which was attended by more than 150 guests from business, science and politics.

Long-term perspective

“This method of using carbon dioxide as a raw material is an important step as we move toward a sustainable future. The German Federal government is promoting the use of CO2 as a raw material in order to expand the chemical industry’s raw materials basis and open new avenues to sustainability,” emphasized Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It supported Covestro’s technology financially in the research and development phase.

Professor Ernst Schmachtenberg, Rector of RWTH Aachen University, added: “Making efficient use of the carbon dioxide molecule, which is normally slow to react, is a real scientific and technical challenge. We have made a breakthrough by combining application-centric basic research with research-based industrial practices.”

Covestro scientists worked hand-in-hand with experts from the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen – a research institute operated jointly with RWTH – to find the right catalyst that would make the chemical reaction with CO2 possible.

For mattresses and upholstery

In Dormagen, Covestro is now using carbon from CO2 to manufacture a new type of polyol. These are core building blocks for polyurethane foam – a versatile material that is used in many industries around the world and that we encounter throughout our daily lives. The carbon dioxide is chemically bound into the material.

The company has invested some EUR 15 million in the new plant, which has an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons. The CO2 used is a waste product from a neighboring chemical company.

The new CO2-based polyol has been engineered initially for flexible polyurethane foam intended for use in mattresses and upholstered furniture. In terms of quality, the foam achieves at least the same high standards as conventional material produced using only petrochemical raw materials, i.e. crude oil.

Environmentally friendly processes

By eliminating the use of crude oil and saving the energy otherwise used to process that oil, the method is more environmentally friendly than conventional production processes. Thanks to the catalyst and the considerable energy contained in the remaining content of petrochemical raw materials, no additional energy needs to be expended to make the low-reactivity CO2 react.

If the new CO2-based products are received as warmly as is hoped, Covestro can envisage significant production expansion. In addition to flexible foam, the company is also working on manufacturing many other plastics with carbon dioxide. Its vision is to one day largely dispense with crude oil in plastics production.


About Covestro:
With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and as of the end of the first quarter 2016 employed approximately 15,700 people (full-time equivalents).

This press release is available for download from the Covestro press server at www.covestro.com. Photos are available there for download from 2 p.m. as well. Please mind the source of the pictures.


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Forward-looking statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available on the Covestro website at www.covestro.com. Covestro assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.