A Boost for Catalysis Research

21/12/2016

Continued support for the CAT Catalytic Center: Materials manufacturer Covestro and RWTH Aachen Uniersity are extending their collaboration in catalysis research.

Peter Winandy From left: RWTH Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg, Dr. Markus Steilemann, Chief Innovation Officer at Covestro, and Professor Walter Leitner, director of the CAT Catalytic Center, signed the extended partnership agreement.

Covestro's Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Markus Steilemann, and RWTH Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg recently signed an agreement to this effect. Under the agreement, Covestro will contribute a total of 12 million euros over the next seven years to fund the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen, operated jointly by the two partners.

Both institutions had joined forces in 2007 to establish the facility. The Center currently has 25 employees engaged in basic research into innovative technologies, with a focus on fundamental, long-term issues in catalysis research. Scientific director of the Center since its inception has been Professor Walter Leitner, Chair of Technical Chemistry and Petrochemistry at RWTH Aachen.

“Our power to innovate is key to Covestro’s business success and thus to its future. We therefore collaborate closely with the research community,” said Steilemann. “The CAT Catalytic Center and its international experts have produced many research results that have been extremely useful to us and our customers.”

Rector Schmachtenberg added: “The CAT Catalytic Center is representative of the fruitful partnership between science-oriented industry and application-oriented basic research. We are therefore very pleased that this facility has secured funding for the next few years.”

The greatest achievements by the CAT Catalytic Center and Covestro to date have been in the utilization of carbon dioxide as a new raw material in plastics production. The two partners developed a catalytic method and brought it relatively quickly to the point of market introduction.

Specifically, carbon dioxide can now be used as component for manufacturing polyurethane foam. This material is normally produced entirely from petroleum. Covestro this year opened a plant with an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons at its Dormagen site.

The researchers at RWTH and Covestro have received several joint awards in recognition of their successful partnership, most recently the Innovation Award from industry market information provider ICIS in the category “Innovation with the best benefit for the environment and sustainability.”

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