Innovation and other news from Covestro
The latest innovations made by Covestro are cardyon® – The new brand for sustainable plastics production; Innovative design concept for electric cars, and Covestro sharpens focus on sustainability and cooperates to cast polyurethane elastomers for offshore wind farms in China. The company expands also capacity of MDI production in Germany by transforming an idled plant, and Solar Ship becomes a technology driver
Covestro starts brand launch for CO2 products
By using the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to synthesize plastics, Covestro is helping to preserve increasingly scarce fossil resources and close the carbon loop. The company has developed a new technology for using CO2 to make substances, which are then used for the manufacture of premium foams. Under the new brand name cardyon®, Covestro now offers partners in the polyurethane industry the opportunity of reducing their dependence on oil and thus the size of their carbon footprint.
“Our customers want more sustainable raw materials, but also the same high product quality they achieved with conventional components,” explained project manager Dr. Karsten Malsch. “cardyon® is an equal alternative to conventional products. At the same time, customers can set themselves apart from the competition with our product.”
The technology also impressed EUROPUR, the European association of flexible polyurethane foam blocks manufacturers. At the association’s 50th anniversary conference, it selected Covestro as winner of this year’s Sustainability Award. Jean-Pierre de Kesel, chief sustainable innovation officer at Recticel, spoke on behalf of the jury, praising the outstanding contribution made by innovations of this kind to reducing the industry’s ecological footprint. The award was presented in cooperation with the trade journal Urethanes Technology International.
Covestro will soon be commencing operation of the first production plant for CO2-based polyether polyols at its Dormagen site. The facility will produce raw materials for products such as the flexible polyurethane foams used in mattresses and upholstered furniture.
Covestro is collaborating with partners in industry and academia to develop further components and potential applications for CO2-based polyurethanes.
Caption: Covestro received the Sustainability Award for CO2-based polyurethane components, which are marketed under the new brand name cardyon®. Project head Dr. Karsten Malsch (second from right) and his colleagues Dr. Lutz Brassat, Dr. Stefan Lindner and Matthaeus Gossner (from left) were very delighted about the award. On the right side is Jean-Pierre de Kesel (Recticel), a member of the jury
Innovative design concept for electric cars
At the K 2016 (October 19-26, 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany, the world’s No. 1 Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber) plastics trade fair, Covestro will be unveiling an entirely new concept for designing electric motor vehicles. It was developed in close collaboration with design students and partners in the auto industry, and is based on pioneering plastics technologies. The visionary concept is to be presented in the form of a contemporary electric car incorporating current trends in exterior design, including a seamless front end, innovative holographic lighting, polycarbonate wrap-around glazing and the use of sustainable coating and adhesive systems.
“Our concept helps to expand electromobility, which is destined to make a major contribution to climate protection,” said project manager Jochen Hardt. “These developments are pushing boundaries, offering new solutions for attractively designing comfortable, functional and energy-efficient cars. They are our way of helping customers raise the bar on styling, functional integration, profitability and sustainability.”
Redefining automotive lighting
Automotive lighting is entering a totally new dimension defined by luminous surfaces with integrated headlamps and rear lights: Light and the lighting effect itself is now the styling element. Automotive designers today have access to remarkable possibilities for styling the front and rear ends, including homogeneously integrating sensors, antennas, light and signal elements. While consumers want a sophisticated and trendy look, car makers want unique features and an unmistakable brand design.
Holography will likely prove to be a top technology in future automotive lighting. Together with automotive supplier HELLA, Covestro has developed an innovative solution based on holographic films, with which various light functions can be integrated into the body parts. The solution requires very little space and opens up entirely new possibilities for using light as a design element.
Another trend is seamless, homogeneous surfaces, which are about more than just aesthetics: The less drag a vehicle creates, the less energy it consumes or, in the case of electric cars, the greater their range. To help reduce drag, Covestro equipped its concept car with additional components to improve aerodynamics.
Wrap-around glazing made of transparent polycarbonate provides for better all-around visibility. Wrap-around glazing rewards passengers with a panorama view, and enhances pedestrian safety because it almost entirely eliminates blind spots.
New developments in raw materials for coatings and adhesives are another part of the design concept. The coating hardener is made with biomass: 70 percent of its carbon content is of plant origin. Coatings formulated with this raw material achieve the same high-level properties as conventional coatings, even surpassing them in some cases. On top of that, they contribute to climate protection.
Another hardener enables plastic automotive add-on parts to be coated at low temperatures. In the medium term, this technology will offer the opportunity of coating plastic, composite and metal parts together for the first time. For more sophisticated demands, Covestro also has developed raw materials for transparent adhesives.
Material meets design
Covestro worked closely with various partners on its new automotive concept. For instance, the company invited students from the distinguished Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden and the Northern Works design agency in Finland, to Leverkusen. The purpose of the project was to shift existing boundaries between aesthetics and materials and to develop new ideas for design and functionality that fulfil the dreams of future drivers. The focus was on material solutions based on polycarbonate.
As many as 50 years ago, Covestro, then operating under its former name Bayer, introduced the first car with a plastic body at the plastics trade show: the K 67. Since then, the company has been repeatedly pushing boundaries with innovative and bold material solutions. Additional milestones include the introduction of headlamps and automotive glazing made of polycarbonate, raw materials for waterborne fillers and base coats, as well as low-solvent polyurethane clear coats.
Covestro sharpens focus on sustainability
Covestro is launching a comprehensive program to further sharpen its focus on sustainable development. The materials manufacturer has established five measurable targets it wants to achieve by 2025, covering processes and products as well as research and development. The program also addresses suppliers, customers and consumers. The company aims to develop new partnerships and business models to help improve the lives of ten million people in underserved markets. Other focal points are resource conservation and climate protection.
“Our five new targets cleary demonstrate how much sustainable development will drive our business in the future,” said CEO Patrick Thomas. “We are embedding sustainability at the heart of our strategy and anchoring it firmly throughout our entire company. At the same time we aim to assist others throughout the entire value-added chain to the end consumer. Together we can master the major challenges of our time and make the world a brighter place, which is both the vision and purpose of Covestro.”
Suppling underserved markets
In keeping with this vision, the company has undertaken to improve the living conditions of ten million disadvantaged people primarily in developing and emerging countries by the year 2025. Covestro is working with customers, governmental and non-governmental organizations to develop solutions based on its materials, enabling affordable housing, preventing food spoilage and improving hygiene.
As a result, sustainability is a key driver behind innovation at Covestro. The company intends to dedicate four-fifths of its research and development expenditures to delivering sustainability solutions through to 2025. The respective projects will take into account the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations and are to be achieved together with, or with the support of, recognized institutions.
50 percent less greenhouse gases
Covestro intends to halve direct and indirect emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 per metric ton of product relative to 2005 emissions by 2025. The company had previously set a target of a 40 percent reduction by 2020, but thanks to numerous improvements in production had already almost achieved this in 2015.
Focusing on carbon, Covestro aims to use this key element as intelligently as possible and generate from it the greatest possible value. In a first step, the company plans to develop a measurement methodology in collaboration with business partners and recognized institutions.
Also, Covestro will work with its larger suppliers for them to comply fully with its sustainability requirements. A deadline of 2025 has been set for full attainment of this target. Through this initiative, Covestro also wants to help suppliers improve their own sustainability efforts.
Cooperation to cast polyurethane elastomers for offshore wind farms in China
Covestro and Tekmar sign cooperation agreement to cast polyurethane elastomers for offshore wind farms in China
Covestro and Tekmar Energy Ltd. have signed a cooperation agreement on a high-performance and durable subsea cable protection for the China Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) market. This market is set to grow towards 10 gigawatts of capacity within the next three to five years. Once operational, China’s OWF capacity will be one of the world’s largest in terms of size and production output, surpassing the scale of the entire existing and planned European production capacity in volume.
Both companies will collaborate on the development of Cable Protection Systems (CPS). They protect expensive and sensitive subsea energy cables at vulnerable locations from the wave and tidal action amongst other external forces. The development covers many solutions from bend stiffeners to bend restrictors, many of which are using TEKLINK® CPS developed by Tekmar based on Covestro specialty elastomers materials.
TEKLINK® CPS by Tekmar is a patented CPS for connection and protection of cables in wind turbine foundations. It involves several products such as stiffeners for damping movement, bend restrictors for offering lock-out protection and split-pipes for ballast and stability.Together they enable to improve longevity and performance of offshore wind farms, to significantly increase the productivity and safety of the installation process and thereby to help the project owners to gain time and save money.
Throughout the development phase of these high-performance subsea cable protection solutions, Covestro provided crucial support in elastomers chemistry and processing expertise. The developed system leads to highly robust elastomers suitable for resisting severe offshore environmental conditions. To achieve the required impact and hydrolysis resistance for this application, Covestro recommended a system based on its well-known Desmodur® and Baytec® technologies.
As part of the cooperation agreement, Covestro will supply elastomer casting machinery, elastomer systems as well as processing know-how to enable the manufacturing of the cable protection systems in China developed by Tekmar in the UK.
“Thanks to this cooperation agreement, we welcome the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with Tekmar”, said Michael Friede, CEO & President of Covestro Elastomers SAS. ”We both established our technologies as the reference point for cable protection for offshore wind farms in Europe. We aim to build on these successes and act as vanguard in China. We look forward to further develop and introduce our new materials and technology for Tekmar’s future generation products.”
James Ritchie, chief executive officer at Tekmar added, “The China Offshore Wind Market is an exciting expansion opportunity for Tekmar as it will reinforce our market leading position on a global basis. Our proven solution is already being installed in the region on the Formosa offshore wind farm project in Taiwan. Further we look forward to working in collaboration with our proven EU supplier Covestro, who has resources and facilities in Shanghai that will help us both to develop this emerging market.”
With over 30 years’ experience, Tekmar is a market leader in the design, manufacture and supply of subsea cables, umbilicals and flexible protection systems for the renewable energy and oil & gas industry. Experience and reputation in these markets has seen Tekmar become a market leader in OWF with over 4200 CPS supplied across seven countries and three continents, protecting billions of euros worth of assets. The company has over 120 members of staff and is headquartered in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham in the UK.
Covestro expanding capacity at German site
Materials manufacturer Covestro is moving forward with a repurposing of its production operations in Brunsbüttel, Germany. The Board of Management has now officially approved an expansion of production capacity for the foam component MDI at the site. An existing, idled plant for the precursor TDI will be converted for production of MDI. The plans call for roughly doubling production capacity at the site to a total of approximately 400,000 metric tons of MDI per year. Commissioning of the new plant complex is scheduled for late 2018. Preliminary plans call for a total investment volume (in euros) in the low hundreds of millions, which is already included in Covestro’s medium-term capital expenditure budget.
MDI (diphenylmethane diisocyanate) is the basis to produce rigid polyurethane foam, which is used primarily for the efficient insulation of buildings and throughout the cool chain. The resultant energy savings help to substantially reduce CO2 emissions. TDI (toluene diisocyanate), on the other hand, is a key component of flexible polyurethane foam, which is found in products including mattresses, upholstered furniture and automobile seats. The Dormagen site is Covestro’s European center for production of this precursor.
“The planned MDI plant complex is a milestone in terms of energy efficiency, environmental compatibility and productivity, in addition to meeting the highest safety standards,” said Dr. Steffen Kühling, site and production manager in Brunsbüttel. He added that the project also represents a clear commitment to the Brunsbüttel site and will help to secure jobs at the plant and in the region.
The Covestro Brunsbüttel Industrial Park is particularly well-suited for the MDI expansion because raw materials and other precursors are available there, and the site also offers the infrastructure required. Furthermore, the site’s employees also have extensive expertise and experience.
The public authorities granted Covestro the permit for converting the plant in March 2014. This allows annual capacity to be expanded by as much as 220,000 metric tons of MDI. During the conversion, some 300 employees of participating service providers will be working at the site.
With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, 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 used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and as of the end of the first quarter 2016 employed approximately 15700 people (full-time equivalents).
Solar aircraft becomes technology driver
The two Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will shortly be aiming to complete the first around-the-world flight in their exclusively solar-powered aircraft. Today the aircraft landed safely in Sevilla, Spain, after a 70-hour transatlantic flight. The groundbreaking Solar Impulse project will end in Abu Dhabi, where it began over a year ago.
However, this isn’t the end of the success story for official partner Covestro. Its innovative and sustainable materials, which enabled the mission with the ultra lightweight aircraft, will find their way into countless everyday products in the future.
“Solar Impulse is a powerful demonstration of the role that innovative materials play in fulfilling people’s visions,” said Covestro CEO Patrick Thomas. “Solar Impulse has also served as a flying laboratory, providing us with valuable information. We’ve then used this information for innovations to make the world a brighter place.”
The key challenge in designing Solar Impulse was to develop particularly lightweight materials to compensate for the heavy weight of the batteries. These store the electricity generated by the solar cells and must have sufficient capacity to enable the aircraft to also fly at night.
Ultra lightweight and an outstanding insulator
Take the cockpit door, for example, where a polyurethane foam with a very low density of less than 40 kg/m3 keeps the weight extremely low. The Covestro researchers achieved this by reducing the pores to micrometer scale, with 96 percent of the foam consisting of gaseous blowing agent and only four percent solid polyurethane. For comparison: water has a density of 1,000 kg/m3 which is 25 times higher than the specific weight of the foam.
The foam also offers very good insulation. A grade with larger pores is already used in almost all the world’s refrigerators to stop food from spoiling. Covestro has continued to develop the products, thereby enabling manufacturers to increase the already high efficiency of their appliances even further.
Safe and robust
Carbon fiber-reinforced polyurethane composites also offer opportunities for reducing weight and thus cutting energy consumption. In addition, the robust materials provide the door of the Solar Impulse with the necessary mechanical strength.
Covestro has recognized the potential of these products and now offers them for the manufacture of structural automotive components. The parts can be manufactured efficiently using high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM).
A clear solution
Polycarbonate from Covestro also combines low weight and impressive strength. Its excellent transparency made it the material of choice for the cockpit glazing. Here, too, extremely thin polycarbonate sheets create an exceptionally lightweight solution that benefits from the extensive expertise of Covestro specialists in processing Makrolon® panels using thermoforming.
The panels can be given special properties depending on the specific requirements. For example, a special coating can prevent the glazing from fogging over. Polycarbonate sheets are highly versatile and can be used in areas ranging from roofs in sports stadiums and facade designs for buildings to noise barriers along highways and rail lines.
On cloud nine
Flexible polyurethane foam has long been synonymous with comfortable upholstered furniture and mattresses. Yet even its low weight wasn’t low enough for the designers of the Solar Impulse aircraft. A high-tech solution based on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) films inflated with air was used in the aircraft seat. The key here is that the pilot can adjust the seat to suit his individual needs by inflating it or releasing air from it. The seat structure is also extremely lightweight, with the result that the solution is already being used in many other aircraft.
The Solar Impulse aircraft in Seville, Spain. Shortly the Solar Impulse solar plane is expected to return to its airport of departure in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Covestro is an official partner of the project and developed ultra-lightweight materials for the plane