When the first blue hockey pitches appeared in 2012 at the London Olympics, they caused a sensation. Immediately dubbed "Smurf turf" by the general public, the feedback was nonetheless overwhelmingly positive. The blue color provided high levels of contrast with the ball for players officials, spectators, photographers and broadcasters alike. Blue turf was an innovation that was here to stay.
Far less arresting, yet in its own way just as significant, is the innovation at this year's Tokyo Olympic Games: While still blue, the artificial turf installed in Tokyo is made from a material that is based on the CO2 technology developed by Covestro and brought to market a few years ago.
Covestro partnered with Australia-based Advanced Polymer Technology (APT) – a leading global manufacturer of polyurethane-based materials, acrylic coatings and artificial turf products – to develop the exclusive Poligras Tokyo GT field hockey surface in conjunction with sports flooring manufacturer Polytan. The product was developed using Covestro's cardyon, a polyol produced with up to 20 percent content from carbon dioxide, specifically to produce the binder that sits beneath the surface. Cardyon is manufactured at Covestro's Dormagen site near Cologne, Germany.
"Thanks to Covestro's CO2 technology and other sustainable components such as renewable raw materials and recycled rubber, this field hockey pitch is one of the most sustainable and technologically advanced surfaces we have developed in the world," says Jim Tritt, chief operating officer of Sport Group Asia, which includes APT.
He added that at the same time, the pitch offers "premium playability and performance" for field hockey players with features that ensure lower surface temperatures and higher ball speeds.
With the technology developed by Covestro, carbon dioxide can be reused as a valuable raw material for sustainable plastics. Chemical catalysts are used to drive reactions between CO2 and a conventional feedstock to produce polyols in a more economical and sustainable way, with the CO2 firmly chemically incorporated.
Today, CO2-based Cardyon is used to produce padding for shoes and car interiors, flexible foam for mattresses and adhesives for sports floors. The first prototypes of insulating materials made of rigid foam and surfactants, which are used as detergents, for example, were also recently realized using CO2 technology.