The construction industry can expect entry of materials based on carbon dioxide (CO2) in the near future as a German firm, Covestro, has developed rigid polyurethane foam insulation boards for use in buildings. The firm did three years of research funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the ‘Dream Resource’ project. The board was developed in partnership with Puren gmbh.
The product uses 20% carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, instead of oil in rigid polyurethane foam. The technology is seen as an important step forward as a climate-relevant construction industry. Buildings are responsible for large-scale global energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases. Viewed from this angle, the product is all likely to contribute to the circular economy and make insulation even more sustainable and efficient in future. Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer at Covestro, said, “Our goal is to end the use of fossil fuels and make our production processes more sustainable”.
The process involves combining the petroleum derivative ethylene oxide with CO2 (through a chemical reaction) to produce polyols and finally rigid polyurethane foam. It replaces 20% of petroleum-based raw materials. “With the development of these materials, we are endowing the greenhouse gas CO2 with a new use with the versatile applications,” said Christoph Gurtler, scientist at Covestro.
The firm has been producing the CO2-based cardyon which is utilised in the manufacture of mattresses, sports flooring, textile fibres and components for vehicle interiors. Under the ‘Dream Resources’ project, over 400 kg of the CO2-based polyol was successfully delivered to Puren for further processing. The initial rigid foam insulation boards made with a CO2-based rigid foam polyol conform to standards and are already comparable with the market requirement with key technical specifications. “The firm is working on further enhancing its properties for market-readiness”, says Puren MD, Andreas Huther.