Non-renewable petrochemical feedstocks are used as a carbon source to produce high-performance polymers.
Technology developed by Covestro captures carbon dioxide from industrial sources and transforms it into a raw material for flexible foam.
Alternative carbon sources for raw materials can lead to future advances in conserving nonrenewable petrochemical feedstocks.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the primary greenhouse gases emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere and a main factor of global warming. It also contains carbon, an important building block for chemicals. For nearly half a century, scientists have sought to capture CO2 and transform it from an inert pollutant into commercially viable products that can drive growth and innovation.
Scientists at Covestro have developed a breakthrough technology – a catalyst that makes it possible to harness waste CO2 and convert it into a precursor for flexible polyurethane foam.
In 2016, Covestro opened a production facility in Germany that sources waste CO2 gas from an adjacent power plant and uses it to manufacture a CO2-based polyol – branded cardyon® – to make flexible foam found in everyday products, like mattresses and furniture.
The CO2 content in the cardyon® polyol grades is currently up to 20 percent. Not only is the resulting foam comparable to conventional foam, but the production footprint is actually lower, since less solvent and energy are required to produce cardyon®.
Currently, cardyon® polyol is commercially available on the European market. Covestro plans to expand its portfolio of CO2-based polyols for use in rigid and thermoplastic polyurethanes and coatings that can be used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer goods.
Cracking the catalytic barrier needed to convert CO2 into a raw material has opened a world of low-carbon, energy-saving possibilities. Covestro and its research partners are studying catalysis with other C1 molecules, like methane and carbon monoxide, to develop sustainable solutions for organic intermediates and polymeric materials.