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Polyols from [CO.sub.2]: a promising opportunity.

This issue comes to you as a result of a joint editorial effort between myself, Sam Anson, and the magazine's mainstay editor, Ken Grace--who is recovering from an illness. This assistance has come at a crucial time, as the build-up to K2010 means than more and more companies are vying for your attention. A recent trip to Dusseldorf confirmed this. A long list of important companies were present to talk about their new products and technologies over a four-day period.

A day before the conference started, Bayer MaterialScience announced the start of a project to produce polycarbonate polyols from waste carbon dioxide. Given the vast resources employed to prevent the liberation of [CO.sub.2] as a biproduct, it is perhaps odd that more has not been done to accept its inevitability and make use of its potential as an industrial chemical. That said, the tide is obviously beginning to turn.

The key to Bayer's research opens an important door: the ability to employ catalysts to enable reactions with [CO.sub.2] that have until now not been feasible because of its low energy density.

Behind the whole project is an integrated approach of German companies and research organisations. The research is focused at the Bayer/Lanxess sponsored Chempark chemical research complex at Leverkusen. The catalysis has been developed at the CAT Catalytic Center at the RWTH Aachen University. Investment has come from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research under the supervision of the German Aerospace Center, an important potential user of the end product. The European energy conglomerate RWE will supply the waste [CO.sub.2] for the project from its power plant at Niederaussem.



Overall, the project seems to offer a win-win for all parties. RWE gets a boost to reducing [CO.sub.2] emissions from burning coal, Bayer MaterialScience gets a source of feedstock for plastics; and the German research and development machine adds another technology to its list of achievements.

Ken Grace

Consulting Editor

Sam Anson

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Title Annotation:comment
Author:Anson, Sam; Grace, Ken
Publication:British Plastics & Rubber
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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