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Covestro inaugurates world's first pilot plant for bio-based aniline

An employee turns a screw on a metal cylinder that is part of a larger plant.

A plant has been put into operation at the Leverkusen site to test the production of aniline based on plant biomass.

Large quantities of bio-based aniline are reportedly being produced in Leverkusen for the first time. The aim is to further develop the new technology and later transfer it to an industrial scale. The basic chemical aniline is used in the plastics industry to produce MDI (methylene diphenyl isocyanate), which in turn is used in insulating materials for buildings, for example. Dr Thorsten Dreier, Chief Technology Officer at Covestro, explains: "Until now, aniline has been produced using fossil raw materials such as crude oil, which releases carbon dioxide and fuels climate change. With our new process, we are helping to build a circular, bio-based economy and I am very proud that we have now succeeded in making the leap to the next technological level." Covestro sees the launch of the pilot plant as a significant step towards the production of plastics based on biomass. The new process reportedly uses a customised microorganism that helps to convert an industrial sugar obtained from plants into an intermediate product through fermentation. According to Covestro, this takes place under milder and therefore more environmentally friendly conditions than in conventional processes. In a second step, aniline with 100 per cent plant-based carbon is then produced from the intermediate product through chemical catalysis. Covestro has reportedly developed the process together with scientific partners, including RWTH Aachen University with the CAT Catalytic Centre and the University of Stuttgart.

  • Covestro press release (13.2.2024)
  • Photo: © Covestro

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