Covestro innovation can spearhead a large emission reduction in foam mattress production


Covestro’s CEO Markus Steilemann takes the stage at the K fair to highlight the Cardyon innovation. Photo credit: Anders Lorenzen.

By Anders Lorenzen

Most people, when lying on their beds, probably do not realise they’re lying on a big pile of crude oil. The most common type of mattress is a foam mattress of polyurethane foam, which is made from crude oil.

But one company is hoping to change that.

Covestro, the German polymers producer, has invented and presented a new material, Cardyon®, for use in the production of flexible polyurethane foams, It is rapidly being adopted into some products. 

Cardyon® was first released in 2016 and was the result of a collaboration between the University of Aachen and Covestro. It eliminates the need for fossil fuels. In fact, it feeds on one of the byproducts of fossil fuels use and production; CO2, which is now so abundant and which is partly responsible for the climate crisis.  


Cardyon displayed at the K fair. Photo credit: Anders Lorenzen.

Together the university and Covestro created the new raw material. Instead of using fossil fuels to produce polyurethane, Cardyon® is produced by extracting CO2 from the air from industrial activities such as a petrochemical factory or a coal power plant. 

Covestro is keen to claim that this is a double win for the climate. Not only do you reduce the fossil fuels needed to create polyurethane but you also capture some of the CO2 emitted.  And as a result, where and when Cardyon® is used, the finished product is moving further towards becoming a carbon-negative product. Covestro says this fits into their circular economy strategy by recycling carbon.

One of the products it has already been embedded into is smart flexible foam mattresses. Covestro says that a range of innovations has taken place which reduces emissions. For instance, a “digital product finder” has been created, which enables foam manufacturers to find the ideal raw materials for their products as well as the Cardyon® polyols. Another innovation which further reduces emissions is reactive catalysts, which are integrated into the polymer chains of the foams.

Covestro took these innovations to K in Dusseldorf, Germany earlier this month, the world’s largest plastics and rubber trade fair. With increased global attention on cutting carbon emissions, the company was keen to showcase their Cardyon®” technology, displaying a range of the products where it could be used.  In addition to flexible foam mattresses, sports shoes and socks using Cardyon® “ were on display. 

If utilised on a large enough scale, this could prove one of the technologies to capture carbon and reduce fossil fuel usage and thereby CO2 emissions. 

With the current huge focus on climate change, Covestro is determined to focus attention on a technology that tackles this from two fronts. Now they just have to find enough backers for the technology.

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