Following a successful test phase, Bayer is aiming to commercialise the use of carbon dioxide as a new raw material for plastics with an initial application to be flexible foam for mattresses.
The company is planning the construction of a production facility at its site in Dormagen, Germany, where CO2 will be used to produce a precursor for the high-quality foam, with a view to making larger quantities of it available to selected processors from 2015.
“CO2 is taking on a new light,” says Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience. “The waste gas is turning into a useful and profitable raw material and we are one of the first companies worldwide to take an entirely different approach to the production of high-quality foams.”
The materials manufacturer 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 Dream Production research project, a pilot plant at Bayer’s main site in Leverkusen produced smaller quantities of the precursor polyol, in which the CO2 is chemically bound.
The substance is used for the production of polyurethane foam. which can be found in many everyday items. In internal tests, the new foams show at least the same quality as conventional material based entirely on fossil fuels.
“After successfully completing the test phase, we are now launching Stage 2 with the target of commercialization,” says Thomas. “The planned production facility in Dormagen will have a capacity of several thousand metric tons which will not be enough to accommodate the market demand, of course. It is Bayer’s patent-registered technology and we have not yet decided to be the exclusive producer of this innovative polyol. Licensing might also be a possibility.”.