Carbon dioxide as an alternative raw material for the automotive industry

In addition to mattresses, sports floors and textile fibres, German materials firm Covestro says it has opened up a further area of application for the use of CO2 in plastics production.

Now foams for the automotive industry can also be produced partly using carbon dioxide instead of fossil raw materials such as crude oil. The precursor cardyon is used for this purpose, with which the Swiss company FoamPartner produces foams for various areas in the vehicle interior.

Carbon dioxide as an alternative raw material for the automotive industry

The novel technology (cardyon) uses up to 20% CO2 into polyols, key components for polyurethanes.

"We are now taking another important step towards using carbon dioxide as an alternative raw material in the chemical industry on an even broader scale," says Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Covestro. "In doing so, we are accelerating the transformation to a circular economy and supporting our positive momentum for growth in recent weeks."

"Novel materials like cardyon are extremely important for the development and responsible production of sustainable foams," adds Michael Riedel, CEO of FoamPartner. "We are pleased to work with Covestro as one of the innovation leaders in the use of alternative raw materials."

The sustainable foams that FoamPartner will market in the future as a new product series under the name OBoNature will be laminated with a textile in a next step and will thus be used in the interior of vehicles. They will be processed primarily in headliners, but also in door panels and armrests, as well as in car seat covers.

In addition to their resource-conserving production, the particularly low-emission foams are characterised by a longer service life and material resistance. Moreover, thanks to their optimised lamination behaviour, they can be processed in reduced material thickness while at the same time enabling faster laminating processes. This saves both material and manufacturing costs.

Carbon dioxide as an alternative raw material for the automotive industry

In addition to alternative raw materials such as CO2, biomass and waste materials, the focus is on the development of innovative recycling technologies and the use of clean energy sources such as wind power in production, says Covestro.

This long-term strategic orientation along innovation and sustainability trends drives the profitable growth of Covestro. Despite the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020, the company says it has experienced a stable upward trend in global demand since mid-May.

In July, volumes sold were already back at the previous year's level, and the positive trend continued in August. For this reason, Covestro expects an EBITDA of around EUR350 million for the third quarter, compared with EUR125 million in the previous quarter.

CO2 polyols of the brand cardyon are already being used in numerous other applications. In addition to foams in mattresses and upholstered furniture, they are already being used for special adhesives for sports flooring underlays.

In a further research project, it has also been possible to produce elastic textile fibres based on cardyon. They can be used, for example, in stockings and medical textiles, replacing conventional oil-based elastic fibres. Among other things, Covestro is working with various textile manufacturers to bring fibre production to industrial scale and the novel fibres to market maturity.


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