CO2 – a raw material for sustainable plastics

In this project, a catalytic process has been developed to produce, from carbon dioxide and other substances, the raw material polyol.

Specimen for quantifying the damping behavior of different polyols | Image: IKV

The project's aim is to turn carbon dioxide – which is regarded as one of the main causes of climate change through its emission into the atmosphere – into a valuable raw material, and thus contribute to reducing the CO2 footprint.

Involved in this project are Covestro Deutschland AG and IKV together with various other institutes of RWTH Aachen University (ITA, LTT, CAT) and TU Berlin. To analyse the potential of CO2-based polyols for the production of polyurethane mouldings, the properties of the innovative CO2 polyols were comprehensively analysed at IKV. Apart from that, the produced CO2 polyurethanes were evaluated for their usability in applications such as compact damping elements and media lines. Furthermore, the scientists analysed, using a commercial isocyanate, a total of more than 30 different polyols with regard to their processing properties (gel times, viscosities etc.) and the resultant properties in the polyurethane (glass transition temperatures, hardness etc.). From this, they derived empirical formulae to predict these properties. Based on this, polyols were identified and their hardness, tensile properties, bursting pressure properties and other characteristics such as rebound resilience were analysed. This ability to predict the properties should enable material manufacturers to develop suitable polyols specifically for a concrete application.

In the project it was shown that CO2 based polyols had comparable characteristics compared to commercially available damper materials.

Project was nominated for German Future Prize 2019

On 11 September, three research teams were nominated with their projects for the German Future Prize 2019, which has been awarded by the German President since 1997 for innovation in science and technology. Among the nominated projects was the project "CO2 – a raw material for sustainable plastics". The decision as to who will receive this year's German Future Prize was made on 27 November: The prize, which is awarded for outstanding technical, engineering or scientific achievements or for a software and algorithm-based innovation from the IT sector, went to "Team II", which competed for the prize with the project "Process Mining – The key technology for the future of work and added value in businesses". The research team has developed a tool for analysing business processes and making them more efficient.

IKV is delighted with the nomination and the appreciation expressed thereby and congratulates the winner on the award of the German Future Prize.


Daniel Schneider, M.Sc.
+49 241 80-23884