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Bayer plans commercial production of CO2-based polyols

By: URETHANES TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL

July 25, 2013

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY — Following a two-year test phase, Bayer MaterialScience is aiming to commercialize the use of carbon dioxide as a raw material for polyurethane foam.

The company 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 precursor for PU foam. Bayer said its objective is to initially make larger quantities of this precursor available to "selective processors" from 2015. The planned production facility in Dormagen will have a facility of several thousand metric tons, though Bayer expects higher volumes in the future.

Further details of investment in the project or a construction schedule is not yet available, a Bayer spokesman told Urethanes Technology International.

The use of CO2 replaces a portion of the fossil-fuel raw materials, such as petroleum, that would otherwise be used exclusively, Bayer said. The chemical giant also expects the new process to provide economic advantages over a 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," said Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience.

Bayer said it 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 Bayer calls 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.

"After successfully completing the test phase, we are now launching Stage 2 with the target of commercialization," Thomas noted. The first use of the new CO2-based flexible foam will be for the production of mattresses.

Thomas added that Bayer is keen to license the carbon dioxide to polyol technology to suitable partners.