Firm con­sid­ers li­cens­ing method to trans­form gas into plas­tic prod­ucts

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - ByWANG YING in Düs­sel­dorf, Ger­many wang_y­ing@chi­

Cove­stro is open to pre­pare to li­cense its cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to turn car­bon diox­ide into valu­able plas­tic prod­ucts to China, the CEO of the Ger­man ma­te­ri­als man­u­fac­turer said.

Cove­stro, for­merly Bayer Ma­te­ri­alS­cience, said it was go­ing to li­cense its tech­nol­ogy of turn­ing the un­wel­come green­house gas into use­ful plas­tics — and China may be among those to adapt the in­no­va­tion which could shake up the polyurethane in­dus­try with a re­duced de­pen­dence on oil and a re­duced car­bon foot­print size.

The group said that by us­ing car­bon diox­ide to syn­the­size plas­tics, such as pre­mium foams, Cove­stro was help­ing to pre­serve in­creas­ingly scarce fos­sil re­sources and close the car­bon loop.

Dur­ing talks sev­eral weeks ago with China Petroleum & Chem­i­cal In­dus­try Fed­er­a­tion chair­man Li Shousheng, Cove­stro’s CEO Pa­trick Thomas said his com­pany was open to li­cense the tech­nol­ogy to other pro­duc­ers if that’s what they would like to use.

That was be­cause the or­ga­ni­za­tion was look­ing to get more peo­ple to en­gage with the tech­nol­ogy and to speed up the pace of in­no­va­tion.

Thomas said the tech­nol­ogy in China at the mo­ment for mak­ing polyurethane ma­te­rial had room to be im­proved, so there was a real op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence if the tech­nol­ogy used was the lat­est one. He said he ex­pected to see li­cens­ing of his tech­nol­ogy in coun­tries like China.

“The pur­pose of li­cens­ing the tech­nol­ogy is to en­cour­age more peo­ple to use the tech­nol­ogy and it is to­tally log­i­cal for China to be the first,” Thomas said, adding that the bar­ri­ers to en­ter a new tech­nol­ogy was higher in a ful­ly­de­vel­oped econ­omy like Ger­many.

“We need more peo­ple to work on it. Our ma­jor in­no­va­tion is chang­ing peo­ple’s minds fromper­ceiv­ing­car­bon­diox­ide to be­ing a neg­a­tive thing to be­ing a pos­i­tive thing, and that’s the most im­por­tant step. Once you’ve de­cided that car­bon­diox­ide is a valu­able source of car­bon in the chem­i­cal in­dus­try, then you can do a whole load of other things,” he said.

Thomas said Cove­stro would like to ap­ply a mixed ap­proach of li­cens­ing and self man­u­fac­tur­ing to pro­mote the tech­nol­ogy to more peo­ple.

“We are learn­ing and we are also shar­ing as we go, be­cause then it will hap­pen faster,” he said. The CEO added that he be­lieved the days of one com­pany mo­nop­o­liz­ing a tech­nol­ogy were gone and tech­nol­ogy needed to be opened up and li­censed.

Ac­cord­ing to Thomas, nine years ago Cove­stro, then Bayer Ma­te­ri­alS­cience, had the vi­sion of mak­ing ma­te­ri­als out Pa­trick Thomas, of car­bon diox­ide and to­day the com­pany had gone from a dream to a com­mer­cial re­al­ity thanks to part­ner­ships.

One year later the com­pany kicked off a CO2 pi­lot project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Aachen Uni­ver­sity’s CAT cat­alytic cen­ter to turn the waste prod­uct to plas­tic com­po­nents, as a so­lu­tion to tackle the green­house gas ef­fect, which is one of the big­gest chal­lenges of the time.

Now the first mat­tresses and up­hol­stered fur­ni­ture made with the CO2-based foam are sched­uled to be re­leased in the mar­ket be­fore the end of the year. The first pro­duc­tion plant for CO2based polyether poly­ols is lo­cated at Cove­stro’s Dor­ma­gen site.

Cove­stro chief in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer Markus Steile­mann said his com­pany was col­lab­o­rat­ing with part­ners in in­dus­try and the academia to de­velop fur­ther com­po­nents and po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions for CO2-based polyurethanes.

Both Thomas and Steile­man­n­made­their re­marks atK 2016, a tri­en­nial in­dus­try event that lasts for eight days and closed on Oct 26 at Düs­sel­dorf, Ger­many. The event is widely re­garded the world’s No 1 trade fair for plas­tics and rub­ber and was at­tended by many small and medi­um­sized Chi­nese in­dus­trial en­ter­prises, look­ing to up­grade them­selves in the in­dus­trial value chain through overseas mar­ket par­tic­i­pa­tion and brand mar­ket­ing.

Thomas said he dis­agreed with sim­plis­tic views that China was cur­rently un­der­go­ing a slow­down in its econ­omy. In­stead, he said he be­lieved it was more a ques­tion of a change from quan­ti­ta­tive growth by per­cent­ages per an­num, to one of qual­ity of growth.

The dif­fer­ence with quan­ti­ta­tive growth was that qual­i­ta­tive growth was driven by in­no­va­tion. The lat­ter’s char­ac­ter­is­tics in­cluded not only the qual­ity, but also the in­no­va­tive con­tent of the prod­uct.

“There are huge op­por­tu­ni­ties with re­gards to China’s ur­ban­iza­tion, ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, and sus­tain­able growth,” he added.

The pur­pose of li­cens­ing the tech­nol­ogy is to en­cour­age more peo­ple to use the tech­nol­ogy and it is to­tally log­i­cal for China to be the first.” Cove­stro CEO of


A man car­ry­ing a boy walks out­side a prop­erty agency fea­tur­ing posters of the lat­est high-rise apart­ment build­ings in Hong Kong.

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