Following testing and market analysis, Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer MaterialScience will invest 15 million euros (about $20 million) in the construction of a production line at its Dormagen site, which will use carbon dioxide to produce a precursor for premium polyurethane foam.
The objective of the “Dream Production” project is to launch the first CO2-based polyols—primary components of polyurethane formulation—on the market starting in 2016.
High-quality polyols based on carbon dioxide are not currently available on a commercial scale. The new Bayer MaterialScience CO2-based polyols offer a reduction in the amount of the petroleum-based raw material propylene oxide, of which polyols are normally entirely made.
Bayer MaterialScience developed the manufacturing process in collaboration with partners in industry and academia. The company discovered the catalyst that brings about the chemical reaction with the required level of efficiency, and developed it with the CAT Catalytic Center research facility in Aachen, Germany. The process was tested in a pilot plant at the Leverkusen site as part of the publicly funded Dream Production research project.
The new polyol is used in the production of polyurethane foam, which is found in upholstered furniture, shoes and automotive parts, and is also used to insulate buildings and refrigeration equipment.