Killing two birds with one stone – plastic from CO2

CO2 – sounds harmful, but it isn’t. Not in principle, anyway. Also known as carbon dioxide, this greenhouse gas is a natural component of the air. In other words, we need CO2 to survive. It becomes critical when large quantities of CO2 are produced that ultimately lead to global warming. This is due to our insatiable need for energy. More and more fossil fuels like coal are being burned. But CO2 can be recycled. The plastics industry, for example, uses it in its production processes.

From a scourge to a valuable raw material

The whole world is working towards emitting less carbon dioxide to put a stop to climate change as far as possible. However, it will be several decades before carbon neutrality is achieved. Until then, we will have to live with the fact that greenhouse gases will continue to be released. It’s therefore a good idea to use CO2 as a valuable chemical raw material.

For many decades, however, researchers all over the world struggled to make CO2 usable as a raw material for plastics. The molecule is enormously inert. An enormous amount of energy is required for it to react. Germany has now succeeded in doing just that using less energy thanks to a new catalyst, i.e. a substance that increases the reaction rate of a molecule.

Recycling CO2, saving crude oil

As a result, carbon dioxide has recently started to replace part of the crude oil needed for the production of certain plastics. This is a real milestone on the road to greater sustainability, because a fossil raw material like crude oil is not only finite, extracting it costs more in terms of resources and money. In addition, it often has to be transported over long distances, which also has an impact on its carbon footprint. CO2 as a supplementary raw material is much more environmentally acceptable, as it comes directly from nearby chemical plants where it is produced as part of the exhaust gas stream. As a plastic, it can be fed directly back into the value chain.

Mattresses and sneakers made from CO2

It is already clear that CO2 will soon be part of many everyday products as a component of plastics. You can even lie on it today. It all started with the production of soft foam for mattresses. The foam components produced for this purpose comprise 20 percent CO2.

Carbon dioxide from the Dream Production plant is also used as a binder for sports floors and for foams in vehicles. However, all options are open – CO2 can also be usefully recycled into sneakers, insulating materials and even elastic textile fibres .

CO2 is increasingly evolving from a scourge into an ally on the road to greater sustainability and climate protection. A real win-win situation for people and our climate.


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