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An interdisciplinary team led by Covestro researcher Dr. Gernot Jäger (center) has developed a highly sustainable new production process for the chemical aniline, which is used in foam insulation boards.
An interdisciplinary team led by Covestro researcher Dr. Gernot Jäger (center) has developed a highly sustainable new production process for the chemical aniline, which is used in foam insulation boards.

Covestro has received an innovation award offered by the German government and industry for a research breakthrough in the production of plastics from renewable raw materials. Covestro is leading a research project with partners from industry and science.

This makes the materials manufacturer one of the hundred winners of the Germany-wide competition “Excellent Landmarks in the Land of Ideas“. The prize was awarded for a newly developed process for producing the important basic chemical aniline from plants instead of crude oil.

As part of the project, Covestro is cooperating with Bayer, the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen and the University of Stuttgart. In order to produce aniline from plant biomass, the research consortium led by Covestro has developed a completely new process that combines biotechnology and chemistry.

Up to now the chemical, which serves as the starting material for numerous products, has been produced worldwide exclusively from fossil raw materials such as crude oil.

After the success in the laboratory and in the first pilot plants, the partners now want to further develop the technology. The ultimate goal is to enable the production of bio-based aniline on an industrial scale – an absolute novelty in the plastics industry.

The research project on bio-based aniline will receive funding for a period of two and a half years through the FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.), a project agency of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

We are very pleased to receive this award. It continues to spur us on to contribute to greater sustainability with innovative products, processes and solutions in order to make the world a brighter place,” says Covestro CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann. “This success with bioaniline is also clearly a joint effort and shows how important and useful cooperation in chemistry and industry as a whole is.”

The company received the award at an event organized by “Germany - Land of Ideas” in Berlin. With this initiative, the Federal Government and German industry want to draw attention to the innovative power and efficiency of Germany as a business location.

In this year's competition, which has been held since 2013, around 1,500 applications were submitted. According to the organizers, the winners demonstrate “how forward-looking innovations are created through experimentation, curiosity and the courage to rethink“.

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