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Dreams can come true ... Bayer has embarked on a project to commercially produce plastic from waste [CO.sub.2].

Researchers from Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer Technology Services are working together with RWE Power and academic partner RWTH Aachen University on the sustainable use of carbon dioxide ([CO.sub.2]). At the heart of what has been called the Dream Production project sits the construction and commissioning of a pilot plant at Chempark Leverkusen. This is to be the location for the kilogram-scale production of polyether polycarbonate polyols (PPPs) that will be processed into polyurethanes and will involve the chemical bonding of [CO.sub.2], which will be an integral raw material in this sustainable process. The key technology for this is catalysis.


While catalysis is currently used in the manufacture of more than 85% of all chemical products, the low energy density of [CO.sub.2] has hindered the application of this technology in any attempt to put [CO.sub.2] to practical use.

But in recent laboratory tests, "dream" reactions have been achieved.

For the first time, however, the idea will be transferred from the laboratory to a larger scale experiment. During the next three years, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will invest a total of more than [euro]4.5 million in the initiative, the project supervision of which is under the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

Polyether polycarbonate polyols (PPP) produced using catalysis are extremely attractive materials. As well as incorporating [CO.sub.2] in the process, there are also further interesting possibilities involving their use in polyurethane chemistry.

"Using the waste product [CO.sub.2] to manufacture versatile materials is an amazing achievement made possible by catalysis--and one which both we and our project partners are very proud of," said Patrick Thomas, chief executive officer of Bayer MaterialScience. "What's more, as an ultra-efficient organic insulating material, polyurethanes save around 80 times more energy during their service life than is required for their production. This ensures that PPPs have a doubly positive effect on climate protection."

The Dream Production project is based on a forerunner project known as Dream Reactions, which was initiated by Bayer Technology Services and also funded by the BMBF. "As part of this project, we dealt with fundamental questions focusing on harnessing [CO.sub.2] by using newly developed catalysts. We have achieved promising results that form the basis for industrial implementation in the Dream Production project," explains Dr Dirk Van Meirvenne, managing director of Bayer Technology Services.

"The rewarding collaboration with Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer Technology Services as part of the CAT Catalytic Center, laid the foundations for this consortium. Unifying the entire value chain from the source to the product in one single project is unique in [CO.sub.2] usage. This offers enormous opportunities but also requires open and intensive communication, an aspect that was a great success in the project preparation phase," said Professor Walter Leitner, executive director of the Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry (ITMC) at RWTH Aachen University.

Using [CO.sub.2] as a raw material for manufacturing polymers helps cut consumption of conventional raw materials and therefore fossil fuels. This strategy also shows future generations how to make sustainable use of natural resources.

The [CO.sub.2] used for the project will come from RWE Power's lignite-fired power plant at Niederaussem. This is where the electricity generator operates a [CO.sub.2] scrubbing system at its coal innovation centre, by which the carbon dioxide is captured from the flue gas. For the Dream Productions project the [CO.sub.2] scrubber will be equipped with an additional liquefaction system so that the carbon dioxide can be transported to Leverkusen. The [CO.sub.2] liquefaction system will be designed and operated with flexibility to meet various [CO.sub.2] pressures and purities on a scale ranging from kilograms up to tonnes.

"In a broad-based energy mix, coal will continue to play an important role in the future," said Dr Johannes Lambertz, chief executive officer of RWE Power. "This is why the Dream Production project is also important to RWE. Apart from capturing [CO.sub.2] with an utmost of energy efficiency from the power plant process as a building block for significant carbon dioxide reductions in coal-fired power plants, we are also developing the additional path of [CO.sub.2] usage in a cross-industry cooperation. This comes under the heading: [CO.sub.2]--a new resource."
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Title Annotation:reaction processing
Comment:Dreams can come true ... Bayer has embarked on a project to commercially produce plastic from waste [CO.sub.2].(reaction processing)
Publication:British Plastics & Rubber
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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