Bayer has started up a pilot plant at its Chempark in Leverkusen that utilizes carbon dioxide in the production of polyurethane. The company is trialing the new process on a technical scale, wherein a chemical precursor is produced into which carbon dioxide is incorporated and then processed into polyurethanes.
Bayer is working on the project with the energy company RWE, which supplies the carbon dioxide that's used in the process. Other project partners include RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalytic Center, which is run jointly by the university and Bayer. The researchers recently achieved a break-through in laboratory-scale catalysis technology that they say makes it possible to put carbon dioxide to efficient use in the process for the first time. If the testing phase goes well, the industrial production of plastics based on carbon dioxide should start in 2015....