Transforming Carbon Dioxide into Commercial and Consumer Products
The Dream Production process turns carbon dioxide (CO2) into a useful raw material and new building block for polyurethane foam, a material used as cushioning for a variety of commercial and consumer products. This scientific advancement has the potential to broaden the chemical industry’s raw material base — thereby reducing dependence on traditional fossil fuel inputs — while reducing overall manufacturing emissions.
The Dream Production process allows manufacturers to use CO2, formerly a waste product, as an alternative raw material for polyurethane production. Because the CO2 released as a result of fossil fuel combustion is highly thermodynamically stable, finding a catalyst capable of activating it efficiently has been the key challenge to leveraging it as a manufacturing input. Scientists from Bayer and the research institute CAT Catalytic Center in Germany discovered a zinc-based catalyst that enables CO2 to react efficiently with high-energy substances known as epoxides without complicating side reactions. This reaction results in a new kind of polyol that contains a large amount of CO2 instead of fossil fuel. The combination of this new polyol and other additives makes a polyurethane foam.
Since this discovery, Bayer and other manufacturers have been working to chemically process CO2 into polyols. A pilot plant in Leverkusen, Germany, is currently using the Dream Production process to produce polyols from CO2 from a nearby coal-fired plant. The new CO2-based foams have undergone thorough testing, and there are plans to introduce these materials into the process used to make mattresses in the near future.
Business Roundtable members are creating technologies that actively contribute to a more efficient, secure and sustainable future for their customers and the public at large.
In Inventing the Future: How Technology Is Reshaping the Energy and Environmental Landscape Business Roundtable highlights just a small sample of technologies that are actively contributing to a more efficient, secure and sustainable future.
Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote a thriving economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.