A novel process for the production of plastics using carbon dioxide has made Bayer AG a favorite for this year's German Sustainability Award.
The company is among the top three candidates in the category "Germany's Most Sustainable Initiatives." Bayer was nominated for the Dream Production research project, which aims to turn the greenhouse gas CO2 into a useful raw material. This could ultimately provide the chemical industry with an alternative to increasingly scarce resources such as petroleum.
The winners in the various categories will be announced in Düsseldorf on November 4 as part of the celebration of German Sustainability Day. The jury's nomination of Bayer acknowledges the company's commitment to the "energy efficient, conservational and environmentally compatible use of CO2." The use of CO2, a waste product that is harmful to the climate, in a production process is a "dream" that Bayer is pursuing with a "viable prospect of success" according to the citation.
Comprehensive sustainability strategy
"We are pleased and proud to be among the leading candidates for this important award," says Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, the member of the Bayer Board of Management responsible for Technology, Innovation and Environment. "At the same time, we see this as a confirmation of our comprehensive sustainability strategy that is reflected in numerous processes, products and solutions in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-quality materials."
According to Patrick Thomas, CEO of the Bayer MaterialScience subgroup which has overall responsibility for the project, "Dream Production has the potential of triggering a significant change in the raw material base of the chemical industry thanks to the exemplary combination of intercompany collaboration and applied research."
Industrial production planned to begin in 2015
The new process is currently undergoing thorough testing with the objective of beginning industrial production in 2015. A pilot plant brought on stream by Bayer in Leverkusen in February is using carbon dioxide from the power generation industry to produce a chemical precursor for the production of polyurethanes. Polyurethanes are used in many aspects of everyday life and help to save energy and protect the climate. When used to insulate buildings against heat or cold, they can save around 70 times more energy than is used in their production.
The CO2 used is sourced from a power plant operated by RWE Power, which in addition to Bayer Technology Services, the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen and RWTH Aachen University, is among the partners participating in the project. The university's responsibilities include subjecting the new process to comprehensive ecological and economic scrutiny while also comparing it with conventional processes and products.
The German Sustainability Award has been each year since 2008 and is under the patronage of German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. The award recognizes companies that are exemplary in their efforts to combine economic success with social responsibility and conservation of the environment.