- Dr Christoph Gürtler and Prof Walter Leitner nominated in the Industry category
- CO₂ made commercially viable as a raw material
- Technology forms the basis for a large number of marketable products
Covestro's CO₂ technology continues to write its success story. The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced the nomination of the two German chemists, Dr Christoph Gürtler (Covestro AG) and Prof Walter Leitner (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and RWTH Aachen University), as finalists in the "Industry" category of the 2021 European Inventor Award for their role in developing a new technology for using carbon dioxide (CO₂). This technology enables the harmful climate gas CO₂ to be used as a valuable raw material for sustainable plastics. Their process deploys chemical catalysts to drive reactions between CO₂ and a conventional raw material. This process creates so-called polymers in a more sustainable and economically viable way. CO₂ is firmly incorporated in the process.
"This nomination is an important confirmation of our efforts towards making chemistry more sustainable. It shows how crucial patents are for the development process of a technology," says Christoph Gürtler, who is responsible for the development of new processes and products at Covestro. "It is a tremendous honour to be part of the award ceremony on behalf of the interdisciplinary team from product research, process development, marketing and the many other minds driving our invention."
Elastic fibres based on CO₂ technology are used in socks. © Covestro
Successful cooperation between industry and science
"The plastics industry can make a significant contribution to combating climate change by switching to greenhouse gas-neutral production. To achieve this, we need to break away from petroleum and use alternative raw materials such as CO₂", says Dr Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro. "The nomination for the European Inventor Award is an endorsement of our company as a pioneer in this field. I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the many colleagues, including those at our partners, who contributed to the development of the innovative CO₂ technology – a genuine sustainability highlight."
The two nominees, Gürtler and Leitner, have played a significant role in the development and market launch of the platform technology, which originated in the collaboration between application-oriented science and research-oriented industry. Their involvement in a large number of patents related to the use of CO₂ is proof of this: together, the two hold more than 100 patents on CO₂ technology.
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