Bayer MS Dream Production: From climate killer to comfy couch

Every year, we release billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – and drive global warming forward. At the same time, the greenhouse gas with its carbon component is also a valuable chemical raw material. The "Dream Production" process by Bayer MaterialScience shows how carbon dioxide can become a base material for producing mattresses, car seats or insulating material.

"Polyurethane foam? Never heard of it!", some will say. At the same time, they are probably sitting on it – as the plastic is used in mattresses and car seats, among other things. Bayer MaterialScience has developed a new procedure, whereby the chemical group can use CO2 as a raw material for polyurethane foams – this saves in part on the usual raw material, which is petroleum, while at the same time preventing the climate-damaging gas from being released into the atmosphere – a double contribution to sustainability.

Engine for progress:

  • double climate protection effect: CO2 prevention and use
  • fruitful collaboration between university and industry
  • very good market potential for the new CO2 polyurethane foams
  • investment of 15 million euro in the construction of the plant

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Photo: Bayer MaterialScience

From 2016, the first products made out of the new foam material could be available. The manufacture of mattresses is planned. The quality of the new foam material is at least as good as classic polyurethane foams.

20 per cent CO2 built in

In the "Dream Production" process, the greenhouse gas is converted into a special polyol, a component of plastic that contains up to 20 per cent CO2. In Dormagen, Bayer MaterialScience has just invested 15 million euro in such a plant. From 2016, up to 5,000 tonnes of polyols are to be produced there per year – using CO2 that comes from nearby chemical works as a by-product.

Scientific breakthrough

The key step in the Dream Production process is a catalyst that Bayer developed jointly with the CAT Catalytic Center at RWTH Aachen technical university. CO2 is inert – without a catalyst the reaction would not take place. After intensive research, the scientists finally found the right catalyst. And their efforts and patience have really paid off: The new polyurethane foams are at least as good as the conventional alternatives. This has been tested extensively. And with the new procedure, Bayer MaterialScience is helping to meet a growing demand: More than 16 million tonnes of polyurethane are already produced each year. According to expert estimates, worldwide production is expected to grow by five per cent in the coming years.

Dream Production august 2014 (German)

Video: Covestro

Photo: Covestro

"The search for a suitable catalyst took 40 years. The fact that we have now found it is primarily due to the successful collaboration between RWTH Aachen and Bayer MaterialScience."

Dr. Karsten Malsch, Overall Project Leader for Dream Production

Partners and sponsors

  • Covestro
  • CAT Catalytic Center der RWTH Aachen
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)