Covestro Launches Biomass-Based Aniline Pilot Plant in Germany
Covestro Launches Biomass-Based Aniline Pilot Plant in Germany

Covestro Launches Biomass-Based Aniline Pilot Plant in Germany

  • 14-Feb-2024 12:33 PM
  • Journalist: Jai Sen

In a pioneering move, Covestro is pushing forward with the adoption of a groundbreaking method for manufacturing the essential chemical aniline, exclusively relying on plant biomass instead of petroleum for the very first time. The company has recently activated a specialized pilot plant for this purpose at its Leverkusen facility. Initially, significant quantities of bio-derived aniline will be generated there, facilitating further refinement of the new technology for eventual industrial-scale production. Aniline plays a crucial role in the plastics industry, notably in the production of MDI, which finds application in various sectors including building insulation, thereby contributing to energy conservation and reduction of CO2 emissions. Covestro envisions this initiative as a catalyst for promoting the Circular Economy, a goal the company is steadfastly pursuing.

At the inauguration ceremony, notable figures such as North-Rhine Westphalia’s Deputy Minister President Mona Neubaur and Professor Walter Leitner, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim an der Ruhr, were present. Alongside Dr. Thorsten Dreier, Covestro’s Chief Technology Officer, they deliberated on the significance of bio-based feedstocks for fostering a sustainable chemicals industry in the future.

Dr. Dreier emphasized the pivotal role of aniline as a fundamental ingredient in various foam applications, particularly in building and refrigerator insulation. Traditionally sourced from fossil fuels like petroleum, aniline production has been associated with CO2 emissions and exacerbating climate change. Covestro’s novel process represents a crucial step towards establishing a circular, bio-based economy, signaling a remarkable technological advancement.

The development of this process, which has garnered several accolades, was a collaborative effort involving Covestro and partners from the scientific community. Compared to conventional methods, the new process substantially reduces the carbon footprint associated with aniline production. Covestro's investment in the pilot plant at Chempark Leverkusen underscores its commitment to sustainable innovation.

Sustainable initiatives originating from North Rhine-Westphalia are pivotal in driving the transformation of Germany's chemical landscape. The inauguration of the world's first pilot plant for bio-based aniline stands as a remarkable testament to this endeavor.

To sustain the momentum towards a circular economy and climate neutrality within the industry, ensuring planning and investment stability is paramount. As the state government, we are dedicated to fostering an environment that keeps North Rhine-Westphalia competitive and positions it as Europe's foremost climate-neutral industrial hub.

This project epitomizes the collaborative synergy between research-driven industry and application-oriented science, a model that is abundant, particularly in NRW. Germany stands to benefit greatly from fostering more such partnerships to strengthen its position as a leading research and technology hub.

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