Sustainability from the core
Increasing efficiency on-site
Production processes in the chemical industry are – and will continue to be – resource- and energy-intensive. At Covestro, we do not hide behind this fact, but regard it as the root of our responsibility to minimize the consumption in our plants and processes.
Among others, one important means to get ahead on this constant journey is our measurement management system STRUCTese®: it monitors the energy consumption of production sites and offers the possibility of fine-tuning processes to reach an optimum value. In this way, more than 1.65 million megawatt hours can be saved annually. Already today, the STRUCTese® management system is applied at 60 production sites all over the world.
Measures for more on-site efficiency
Isocyanates and polyols are the two primary precursors of polyurethanes. As a world-leading manufacturer of both components, Covestro pioneers in making their production easier, more cost-effective and eco-friendly. One milestone in this endeavour is the gas-phase technology. It allows the production of isocyanate with far less resources than the conventional, liquid-based processes require.
About 80 percent solvent and 60 percent energy can be saved in this way. What’s more, annual carbon dioxide emissions for a typical large-scale plant (with a production capacity of 250,000 metric tons of TDI) are 60,000 metric tons lower than with the conventional process. Covestro has been using this process at an industrial-scale plant at its site in Shanghai, China since 2011 and at its Dormagen site since 2014.
Many industrial processes produce substantial amounts of wastewater with very high salt concentrations. This makes it necessary to develop new, environmentally friendly and economically viable methods for the treatment and use of such wastewaters.
Together with our partners from industry and academia, we have developed an answer to this challenge. We found a way to recover salt and water from industrial wastewater as environmentally friendly as possible: our so called “Re-Salt” technology. The recycled water and salt can be reused for the production of chlorine, a key raw material for the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics.
Covestro is planning a Re-Salt demonstration plant for testing purposes at its Krefeld-Uerdingen site in Germany. Our next goal is to develop a process that benefits not just the plastics industry but other industry segments as well.
About 60% of all chemical products are fabricated, directly or indirectly, using chlorine and/or caustic soda. One of the major challenges for the chlor-alkali industry: the high energy consumption of common salt electrolysis in the production of chlorine and caustic soda.
Together with its partners ThyssenKrupp and UHDENORA, Covestro has developed the so-called Oxygen Depolarized Cathode (ODC) technology. It is based on an electrode which is able to save up to 30 percent energy in the process of chlorine manufacturing. That is a big leap in efficiency. If every chlorine production in Germany would use this process, it could save as much energy as the city of Cologne needs.
Among the further possible applications for ODC technology are water purification and wastewater treatment, as well as disinfection applications or the storage of renewable energy using metal air batteries.