Polyurethanes have changed the world. We have them to thank for energyefficient refrigerators, comfortable upholstered furniture, safe car seats, protective coatings and lightweight composites. 80 years ago, Dr. Otto Bayer discovered polyurethane chemistry virtually by accident. His perseverance and creativity launched the sweeping success of one of the world’s most versatile plastics – and the success story is far from over.
Carbon dioxide as a raw material
Covestro has developed a method for using the greenhouse gas CO2 to synthesize polyurethane components. It markets these raw materials, known as polyols, under the brand name cardyon™ for the production of flexible polyurethane foam, and operates a new production plant for them at its Dormagen site. Up to 20 percent of the fossil raw materials previously used in these products have been replaced by carbon dioxide. A special catalyst gives the molecule the required level of reactivity.
New model for affordable housing
Providing fast, affordable and sustainable housing is a global challenge. Covestro is breaking new ground in its search for creative solutions. Together with industry partners, governments, government agencies and society, Covestro is developing models for affordable housing and running specific projects locally. One example is a multipurpose building in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany, that was planned and built by the local council, the French prefabricated building manufacturer Logelis and Covestro.
Next-generation rotor blades
In keeping with its sustainability strategy, Covestro develops materials and technologies for generating renewable energy – with a focus on wind power. The company has developed an innovative technology for manufacturing rotor blades for wind turbines. The rotors are fabricated in a special process from a polyurethane resin and a fiberglass fabric. For the resin Covestro recently received the vital DNV GL certification for China and can now supply its products to rotor blade manufacturers there.
Proud past, exciting future
Dr. Otto Bayer could only have dreamed of such developments. But even 80 years ago, he lived out Covestro’s corporate values: curious, courageous, colorful. He stubbornly pursued his goal of enhancing the efficiency of plastics manufacturing and en route discovered polyurethane chemistry, which became his passion. He even stuck to his guns when his superiors shook their heads at the bubbly mass he produced in his experiments, saying it was at most a “substitute for Swiss cheese”. Far from it! With incredible creativity he and his team discovered a whole string of potential applications.