Bayer Technology Services, Leverkusen, Germany, has started up a kilogram-scale pilot plant at Chempark Leverkusen that uses carbon dioxide to make polyether polycarbonate polyols, a raw materials for polyurethane. The process promises to provide an outlet for CO2, whose emissions contribute to global warming, while also supplanting petroleum for polyol production, notes the company.
The key to the process is a catalyst discovered by researchers at Bayer and the CAT Catalyst Center, which Bayer and RWTH Aachen University, jointly run, that enables efficient use of the CO2.
RWE Power is supplying the pilot plant with CO2 recovered via a scrubber from flue gas at its lignite power plant in Niederaussem.
Bayer MaterialScience now is testing the polyols, which are used primarily to make soft and rigid foams, at one of its existing plants.
Meanwhile, RWTH Aachen University is conducting ecological and economic studies of all stages of the process and comparing it with conventional processes and products.
The process stems from the so-called "Dream Production" project. This brought together Bayer, RWE, RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalyst Center. For more on the project, see "Carbon Dioxide Gets Boost as Feedstock."