Bayer CO2Foam made with recycled CO2. Credit: Bayer MaterialScience AG
Bayer MaterialScience has announced that following a successful test phase, it is aiming to commercialise the use of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide as a new raw material for plastics.
The company says it has started the planning process for the construction of a production facility at its site in Dormagen, Germany, where CO2 will be used to produce a precursor for high-quality foam. The objective is to initially make larger quantities of this precursor available to selected processors from 2015.
The use of carbon dioxide benefits the environment. As CO2 replaces a portion of the fossil raw materials, such as petroleum, that would otherwise be used exclusively. At the same time, Bayer expects the new process to provide economic advantages over the conventional production method.
Bayer said the use of CO2 as a raw material in the production of the new foam material would benefit the environment by replacing a portion of the fossil raw materials, such as petroleum, that would otherwise be used exclusively during production. At the same time, the company said it expects the new process to provide economic advantages over the conventional production method.
“CO2 is taking on a new light: The waste gas is turning into a useful and profitable raw material. That makes us one of the first companies worldwide to take an entirely different approach to the production of high-quality foams,” commented Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience.
The materials manufacturer has collaborated with partners from industry and academia to develop the process, which has been tested intensively over the last two years. As part of the publicly funded research project “Dream Production”, a pilot plant at Bayer’s main site in Leverkusen produced smaller quantities of the precursor polyol, in which the CO2 is chemically bound.
The substance is used for the production of polyurethane foam, which is a material found in many everyday items, including upholstered furniture, automotive parts, refrigeration equipment and insulation material for buildings. In internal tests, Bayer says the new foams show at least the same high quality as conventional material based entirely on fossil fuels.
“After successfully completing the test phase, we are now launching Stage Two, with the target of commercialisation,” said Thomas. Bayer says the first use of the new CO2-based flexible foam will be for the production of mattresses.
The planned production facility in Dormagen will have a capacity of several thousand metric tonnes. “This will not be enough to accommodate the market demand, of course. It is Bayer’s patent-registered technology and we have not yet decided to be the exclusive producer of this innovative polyol. Licensing might also be a possibility,” concluded Thomas.