Covestro bags innovation award for making plastics from plants

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 04 Jun 2018

An interdisciplinary team led by Covestro researcher Dr. Gernot Jäger (centre) has developed a highly sustainable new production process for the chemical aniline, which is used in foam insulation boar

Covestro has received an innovation award from the German government and industry for a research breakthrough in the production of plastics from renewable raw materials. The prize was awarded for a newly developed process for producing the important basic chemical aniline from plants instead of crude oil. Covestro is leading a research project with partners from industry and science. 

This makes the materials manufacturer one of 100 winners of the Germany-wide competition ‘Excellent Landmarks in the Land of Ideas’.

The company received the award on Monday in Berlin at an event organised by ‘Germany - Land of Ideas’. With this initiative, the German government and German industry want to draw attention to the innovative power and efficiency of Germany as a business location.

In this year's competition, which has been held since 2013, around 1,500 applications were submitted. According to the organisers, the winners demonstrate "how forward-looking innovations are created through experimentation, curiosity and the courage to rethink".


Insulating with plants: A research team led by Covestro has developed a highly sustainable production process for the chemical aniline. It can be used to produce insulation boards from rigid foam such as this sample.

Innovations for more sustainability 
"We are very pleased to receive this award. It continues to spur us on to contribute to greater sustainability with innovative products, processes and solutions in order to make the world a brighter place," said Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann."This success with bioaniline is also clearly a joint effort and shows how important and useful cooperation in chemistry and industry as a whole is." 

As part of the project, Covestro is cooperating with Bayer, the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen and the University of Stuttgart. In order to produce aniline from plant biomass, the research consortium led by Covestro has developed a completely new process that combines biotechnology and chemistry.

Up to now the chemical, which serves as the starting material for numerous products, has been produced worldwide exclusively from fossil raw materials such as crude oil. 

After the success in the laboratory and in the first pilot plants, the partners now want to further develop the technology. The ultimate goal is to enable the production of bio-based aniline on an industrial scale - an absolute novelty in the plastics industry.

With 2017 sales of 14.1 billion euros, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products in the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide including India and employs approximately 16,200 people.



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