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2024-02-15, 06:00

Covestro: Pilot plant for bio-based aniline put into operation

Pilot plant for bio-based aniline - (Photo: Covestro).
Covestro is pressing ahead with the implementation of a new process to produce the chemical aniline entirely on the basis of plant biomass instead of petroleum for the first time. The plastics manufacturer has now commissioned a special pilot plant at its Leverkusen site for this purpose. Larger quantities of bio-based aniline are to be produced there in order to further develop the new technology and transfer it to an industrial scale. Aniline is used in the plastics industry to produce MDI, among other things. This in turn is used, for example, for insulating foams that save energy in buildings and reduce the CO2 footprint.

Covestro has developed the new process, which has already won several awards, together with partners from the world of science. According to the company, it leads to a significantly improved CO2 balance of aniline compared to conventional technology. Covestro has invested a single-digit million euro amount in the pilot plant at the Chempark Leverkusen.

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In the new process, a customised microorganism helps to convert an industrial sugar obtained from plants into an intermediate product through fermentation. This takes place under milder and therefore more environmentally friendly conditions than in conventional processes. In a second step, the intermediate product is converted by chemical catalysis into aniline, which consists of 100 per cent plant-based carbon.

Research into bio-based aniline is being further supported by the German government. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is funding a follow-up project ("Bio4PURDemo") by Covestro and partners, which started in March 2022 and will run until 2025.

RWTH Aachen University with its CAT Catalytic Centre and the University of Stuttgart with its technology transfer initiative are also involved.

Around six million tonnes of aniline are currently produced worldwide, with an average growth rate of three to five percent per year. With a production capacity of more than one million tonnes per year, Covestro is one of the leading aniline manufacturers.

More information: www.covestro.com

Covestro AG, Leverkusen, Germany


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