How can the climate gas carbon dioxide (CO2) be transformed into a valuable raw material, which in turn reduces the use of petroleum? With their role in the development of the CO2 technology, Christoph Gürtler, Head of Catalysis Research at Covestro, and Prof. Walter Leitner, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion as well as Professor at RWTH Aachen University are among the finalists for the European Inventor Award. The prize is conferred annually by the European Patent Office. The two chemists represent the team behind Covestro’s CO2 technology and were nominated in the industry category.
The CO2-technology makes it possible to use harmful carbon dioxide as a valuable raw material for sustainable plastics. The process uses chemical catalysts to drive reactions between CO2 and a conventional raw material. This process creates so-called polymers in a more sustainable and economically viable way. CO2 is tightly bound during the process.
Recognition “for the entire team”
“We are overwhelmed and enormously happy for the entire team, which collectively deserves this recognition. The participation in the inventor award for the CO2 technology is an important sign for all scientists, process engineers, application engineers and patent attorneys that years of research and development and professional patent management pay off – to create a more climate-friendly future in this case,” says Christoph Gürtler.
“Our efforts to make chemistry more sustainable are once again bearing fruit. The fact that the contributions of basic research are being recognized as part of the development of such a process is an extraordinary recognition that would never have been possible without the interdisciplinary team behind it,” adds Walter Leitner.
With its CO2-technology, Covestro has taken an important step toward the Circular Economy. Proportionally, up to 20 percent of fossil raw materials can now be replaced in products. The carbon from the CO2 then remains in the cycle without being released into the atmosphere. At the same time, initial studies suggest that this technology can also be used to produce more recyclable plastics, whose components could be more easily recycled.
Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro, is convinced of the future-oriented technology: “We need to save fossil resources and make industry climate-neutral. With sustainable CO2-technology, we have set a leading light on the path to a circular economy. We are leaving the era of petroleum behind and driving the circular economy with alternative raw materials. I am proud of the team that has made this development possible.”
“To curb climate change, all sectors of society and the economy must reduce their carbon footprint. This cannot be done without far-reaching technical innovations, which in many areas require fundamental findings in chemistry. CO2 utilization, made possible by the team led by Walter Leitner and Christoph Gürtler, is an excellent example of this. And also of how fruitful cooperation between basic and applied research can be,” says Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society.