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.