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Category: Environment

Photo credit: Covestro

Covestro Makes Greenhouse Gas a Raw Material for Polyurethane

Polyols are a key component in the creation of the high-grade polyurethane foams that are used in everything from mattresses to running shoes. And fossil fuels are required to make polyols. But polyurethane manufacturer Covestro has uncovered a way to replace one-fifth of this raw material with carbon dioxide (CO2) — a waste gas that has been linked to global warming. By both reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and recycling this waste gas, Covestro is helping to create a more sustainable manufacturing process.

Covestro converts CO2 using a special catalyst that reacts with propylene oxide without the need for additional energy input. The CO2 is irreversibly bound into the molecular structure of the new polyol.

Flexible foam made with the CO2-based polyol has tested as good or better for the traditional properties.  Covestro is now looking to use CO2 in other polyurethane applications, such as thermoplastic polyurethanes; elastomers; and coatings, adhesives and sealants. This technology has the potential to reduce reliance on oil in these manufacturing processes up to 25%, all while keeping this greenhouse gas from being released into the environment.