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Production Dreams



Carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect. The “Production Dreams” project aims to use it in a climate-friendly way – as the basic component of elastic plastics – so called elastomers. Elastomers are needed in the automobile, electrical and construction industries as well as in mechanical engineering. They are also applied in household goods and medical technology.

Synthetic elastomers are normally based entirely on crude oil. Around 25 percent of the oil usually used to manufacture a precursor can now be replaced by CO₂ as a primary product. The results are so called polyether carbonate-polyurethanes that can be further processed into elastomers.

The elastomers produced using CO₂ have the same high quality as those made of purely petrochemical materials. At the same time, the large-scale method the project partners want to develop and implement is much more energy efficient. It also requires fewer solvents and therefore has a much better life cycle assessment than conventional processes. Because it uses less crude oil, it avoids the processing steps prior to its use in the elastomer – this saves CO₂ emissions and energy in the process as a whole. Using carbon dioxide additionally conserves the limited resource crude oil and simultaneously extends the raw material base of the chemicals and plastics industries.

Single batches of the innovative material have already been produced in the lab. Over the course of the three-year project, a continuous method will be developed that enables economic production on an industrial scale. The plastics manufacturer Covestro and two science partners are involved in the project: The RWTH Aachen University represented by the Chair of Plastics Processing (IKV) and the Chair of Technical Thermodynamics (LTT) and the Technische Universität Berlin with the Chair of Chemical Engineering and Reaction Engineering.

Production Dreams (BMBF r+impuls)

Covestro Press Release


Covestro Deutschland AG

Technische Universität Berlin

RWTH Aachen University (IKV, LTT)


Georg Buchner


Buchner, G. A.; Rudolph, M.; Norwig, J.; Marker, V.; Gürtler, C.; Schomäcker, R. Kinetic Investigation of Polyurethane Rubber Formation from CO2‐Containing Polyols. Chem. Ing. Tech. 2020, 92 (3), 199–208. https://doi.org/10.1002/cite.201900103

Buchner, G. A.; Wulfes, N.; Schomäcker, R. Techno-Economic Assessment of CO2-Containing Polyurethane Rubbers. J. CO2 Util. 2020, 36, 153–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcou.2019.11.010

Zimmermann, A. W.; Wunderlich, J.; Müller, L.; Buchner, G. A.; Marxen, A.; Michailos, S.; Armstrong, K.; Naims, H.; McCord, S.; Styring, P.; Schomäcker, R. Techno-Economic Assessment Guidelines for CO2 Utilization. Front. Energy Res. 2020, 8:5, 1–23. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenrg.2020.00005

Buchner, G. A.; Stepputat, K. J.; Zimmermann, A. W.; Schomäcker, R. Specifying Technology Readiness Levels for the Chemical Industry. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2019, 58 (17), 6957–6969. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.iecr.8b05693

Buchner, G. A.; Zimmermann, A. W.; Hohgräve, A. E.; Schomäcker, R. Techno-Economic Assessment Framework for the Chemical Industry - Based on Technology Readiness Levels. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2018, 57 (25), 8502–8517. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.iecr.8b01248

Buchner, G. A.; Wunderlich, J.; Schomäcker, R. (EST-2912) Technology Readiness Levels Guiding Cost Estimation in the Chemical Industry. In AACE International Transactions; Morgantown, WV, 2018; p EST.2912.1-23.

Buchner, G. A.; Schomäcker, R.; Meys, R.; Bardow, A. Guiding Innovation with Integrated Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) - the Case of CO2-Containing Polyurethane Elastomers, EIT Climate-KIC EnCO2re Report; 2018. http://enco2re.climate-kic.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/TEA-LCA_integration_report_2018.pdf

Zimmermann, A. W.; Wunderlich, J.; Buchner, G. A.; Müller, L.; Armstrong, K.; Michailos, S.; Marxen, A.; Naims, H.; Styring, P.; Schomäcker, R.; et al. Techno-Economic Assessment & Life Cycle Assessment Guidelines for CO2 Utilization; CO2Chem Media and Publishing Ltd, 2018. https://doi.org/10.3998/2027.42/145436

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