Covestro awarded in Germany-wide ideas competition – Innovation prize for plastics from plants

Research breakthrough in sustainable chemical production / Awarded on the initiative of the German government and industry

Plastic from plants: 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. For this achievement, the company has now been awarded an innovation prize by the German government and industry.

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. 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. Covestro is leading a research project with partners from industry and science.

The company received the award on Monday in Berlin at an event organized by “Germany – Land of Ideas“. 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“.

Innovations for more sustainability

“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.“

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 biobased aniline on an industrial scale – an absolute novelty in the plastics industry.

Last year, Covestro was named one of the 50 most innovative companies of the year by the German edition of the science magazine Technology Review.

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 (funding code: 22010215).


About Covestro

With 2017 sales of EUR 14.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,200 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2017.


Learn more about the breakthrough innovation from Covestro in this short video animation:


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Covestro, press release, 2018-06-04.


Bayer AG
Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (BMEL)
Covestro AG
Deutsche Bundesregierung
Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR)
Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH)
Universität Stuttgart


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