RWE has been conducting research into the sustainable use of CO2 in collaboration with Bayer MaterialScience and Bayer Technology Services, and also RWTH Aachen University. The “Dream Production” project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research investigated whether carbon dioxide obtained from flue gases from power stations could be used in the manufacture of high-quality polymers (polyurethanes). The carbon dioxide is permanently chemically bound in these polymers.
Polyurethane is of interest to the automobile industry, house construction and textile manufacture
For this project, the CO2 scrubbing facility at the RWE Innovation Centre was retrofitted with a unit for purifying and liquefying the carbon dioxide, in which the gas was filled into bottles and made available to the project partners to enable them to review its usability in chemical synthesis. To do this, the CO2 from the power station was used to make polyether polycarbonate polyols (PPP) in a pilot facility at Bayer Technology Services, and these were then further processed into polyurethane polymers by Bayer MaterialScience. In addition to their use in building insulation, lightweight components made of polyurethanes can contribute to weight reduction in fields such as the automobile industry and thus to significant energy savings. But polyurethanes are also an element in our daily lives as a substance used in the manufacture of high-quality mattresses and upholstered furniture.