Edition 23, 2011
CO₂destined to become a valuable raw material for innovative substances

Three atoms for a clean future

  • Material experts like Dr. Christoph Gürtler and his team from Bayer MaterialScience want to use the treated and liquefied climate gas as a raw material for the production of ­plastics. For example, the carbon dioxide could then be used as a basis for mattresses and heat insulation products.
  • Raw material supplier: from the flue gas produced by coal-fired power plants like this one in Niederaussem, climate-harmful CO2 is to be channeled off and put to good use.
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Material experts like Dr. Christoph Gürtler and his team from Bayer MaterialScience want to use the treated and liquefied climate gas as a raw material for the production of ­plastics. For example, the carbon dioxide could then be used as a basis for mattresses and heat insulation products.

Chemists have been dreaming for a very long time of using carbon dioxide as a raw material for plastics production. Until now, crude oil has been an indispensable feedstock for plastics, but, as we all know, it is becoming increasingly scarce and ever more expensive. By utilizing CO₂, it would be possible to reduce the chemical industry's dependence on oil and, at the same time, bind the climate-hostile gas. The problem is that the carbon dioxide molecule, which consists of one carbon and two oxygen atoms, is very stable and unreactive. For many years now, chemists have therefore been searching in vain for ways to put this substance to good use.

Industrial-scale production of CO₂plastics
Bayer chemists, working closely together with a research team at RWTH Aachen University, have now succeeded in incorporating the greenhouse gas into the molecular structure of polyurethanes. They use carbon dioxide produced during electricity generation in coal-fired power plants. In fact, a pilot plant is already producing "CO₂plastics" in kilogram quantities. The scientists are now preparing the process for large-scale industrial application.

You can read here how this innovative plastic is produced and how renewable energies can make plastics production even more sustainable:

Last updated: December 12, 2013  Copyright © Bayer AG
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