Bayer MaterialScience (Leverkusen, Germany) is partnering with the country’s largest utility and Aachen University to utilize carbon dioxide (CO2) as a key raw material in the production of polyether polycarbonate polyols (PPPs) that can then be processed into polyurethanes. Bayer, RWE Power AGm, and RWTH Aachen University have been granted more than euro 4.5 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education & Research to investigate the manufacture of polymer materials based on carbon dioxide.
At Chempark Leverkusen, the group is undertaking the construction and commissioning of a pilot plant. While catalysis is currently used in the manufacture of more than 85% of all chemical products, the low-energy density of carbon dioxide has hindered its application. In recent laboratory tests, however, so-called “dream reactions” have been achieved that point to the possibility of commercial viability.
The researchers will transfer these promising results from the laboratory to a larger scale in the Dream Production project. During the next three years the German Federal Ministry of Education & Research (BMBF) will invest a total of more than euro 4.5 million in the initiative, with the project supervised by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Novomer Inc., which grew out of patented catalyst technology developed at Cornell, uses carbon dioxide, among other feedstocks, to make polypropylene carbonate (PPC) materials for packaging and coating applications, including bottles and film. The company says its process uses 50% less energy than traditional plastics manufacturing, while actually removing carbon dioxide from the environment (see original coverage here).