Covestro claims 'super plastic' breakthrough

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Photo by Covestro AG Super plastic claimed to be suitable for a range of industries, including aviation, automotive and medicine.

German materials supplier Covestro AG and its partners have developed an environmentally-friendly exceptionally high-performance thermoplastic (HPT), which they describe as “super plastic”.

The material, which has been developed in a research project coordinated by Covestro and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is claimed to be suitable for a range of industries, including aviation, automotive and medicine.

The plastic, said Covestro on 11 Sept, is stable with high hardness and is also resistant to heat and many solvents. Test batches are already being produced.

As part of the BMBF research project “DreamCompoundConti”, a continuous process will now be developed to enable an environmentally compatible and economical production on an industrial scale.

Covestro is working on the project together with RWTH Aachen University, the Technical University Berlin, the Leipzig Plastics Center and the aircraft manufacturer Airbus as an associated partner.

The project will receive up to €1.5m of funding over the next three years.

“With this new joint project, we are underlining our efforts to produce particularly high-performance plastics in a climate-friendly and simultaneously economically efficient process,” explained Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro.

A special feature of the material is that its production is based on “easily-accessible basic chemicals”.

Photo by Covestro AG

Such materials, said Covestro, are already being used for the production of foams, for example, and do not have to be produced specifically for this purpose. 

A novel catalyst system is then deployed to produce the HPT from the basic chemicals.

This, claims Covestro, “saves CO2 emissions and energy throughout the process because complex process steps are no longer required compared to the production of conventional high-performance thermoplastics.”

An initial life cycle assessment (LCA) of RWTH Aachen University for the industrial manufacturing process has shown that HPT produces more than 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions for production than similar thermoplastics.

Additionally, the new continuous process under study by the project partners requires fewer solvents compared to conventional processes.

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