Covestro joins EU research project to improve sustainability of polyurethane

PolyurethaneMaterials supplier Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany) is participating in a new Europe-wide research project, PUReSmart, devoted to investigating ways to improve recycling of polyurethane (PU). Nine companies and academic institutions from six countries are collaborating to develop a complete circular product life cycle and turn PU into a truly sustainable material.

PUReSmart will run for four years and will receive a €6 million grant from the European Union under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Coordinated by Belgian company Recticel, the project aims to recover 90% of the used PU and create building blocks for existing or new products, such as a new polymer that combines the durability of thermosets with the recyclability of thermoplastics, for example.

Covestro is working on optimizing chemical recycling of PU within the project as well as the qualitative treatment of the material flows that are generated. Intelligent sorting methods are particularly important for efficient chemical recycling, said Covestro’s press release. The aim is to obtain high-quality raw materials for new polyurethane applications.

“Polyurethanes are a particularly versatile and widely used class of plastics that provide comfort and safety in many applications worldwide and, as an insulating material, contribute to energy savings and, thus, to sustainability,” said Dr. Nikola Schuck, who heads Covestro’s contributions to PUReSmart. “Now it’s time to increase the sustainable value of the material at the end of its useful life.”

In addition to Covestro and Recticel, companies that are part of the consortium include BT-Wolfgang Binder (Austria), WeylChem InnoTec (Germany), Ecoinnovazione SRL (Italy) and Ayming (France). Academic partners include the University of Ghent (Belgium), KU Leuven (Belgium) and the Universidad de Castilla – La Mancha (Spain).

Image courtesy Bert Folsom/Adobe Stock.

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