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Covestro: Efficient building insulation with polyurethane

Experts Steffen Hoffmann (left) and Stefan Hopf are manufacturing single insulation boards in the Technical Insulation Center of Covestro (photo: ©Covestro).

In industrial and commercial construction, in public facilities and logistics buildings, energy efficiency, sustainability and compliance with climate protection targets will become increasingly important alongside cost-effectiveness. These and other challenges are the topic of this year's industrieBAU (Industrial Construction) Day on trends and future topics in industrial construction, which the industrieBAU magazine is organizing on September 27 at the Kasino Hotel in Chempark Leverkusen.

Rigid polyurethane (PU) foam is a very high-performance insulating material and is ideal for reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions in buildings as well as conserving fossil resources. In German industrial and commercial buildings made of sandwich panels, the insulating material now has a market share of around 80 percent. Covestro is supporting the event with a lecture and as a platinum sponsor and is inviting the participants to visit its technical center for polyurethane building products.

Sustainable insulating material for industrial and commercial buildings Sandwich panels consist of two metallic cover layers and a core of PU or even more fire-resistant polyisocyanurate (PIR) hard foam. "They have been used for many years for large-area and efficient thermal insulation of industrial and commercial buildings and facilitate fast, modular and cost-effective construction of buildings," says Stefanie Rau, marketing manager for the construction industry in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Rigid PU foam is also used in insulation boards. They have flexible covering layers and are used to insulate pitched and flat roofs and floors as well as internal and external walls. "In flat roof applications, they are gaining increasing market share, which is due to their high compressive strength, water resistance and the associated low maintenance costs," explains Stefanie Rau. Both products are manufactured in a continuous process on double-belt lines.

Covestro – a pioneer in alternative raw materials

For even more sustainable thermal insulation of buildings, Covestro now additionally uses alternative raw materials for its production, also to reduce its own dependence on fossil resources. The company is currently working intensively on a CO2-based raw material for rigid PU foam.

In addition, Covestro and its partners have developed a unique method for obtaining the key chemical product aniline from biobased raw materials. Thus, MDI could in future be produced from this bioaniline – another important raw material for rigid PU foam.

Dr.-Ing. Hubert Ehbing (left) and Stefan Hopf are inspecting the foam quality of a polyurethane insulation board (photo: ©Covestro)

Modern technical center

A few years ago, Covestro set up a modern technical center for the industrial production of polyurethane foams in order to better support it in aligning its production to current market requirements. Among other things, the plant includes continuously operating systems for the production of insulation boards and sandwich panel elements, which are used for large-area insulation solutions in industrial construction. The goal is to further improve the insulating effect and fire resistance of these products in line with customer requirements and market trends.

Digitalization for greater efficiency

Digitalization opens up many opportunities for the construction industry and the associated value chain to increase productivity, make processes more efficient and support sustainability. Covestro pursues a comprehensive strategic program based on three dimensions – digital business processes, digital customer experience and new digital business models.

The implementation of the program begins for Covestro with more efficient operation of its own production and ranges from a comprehensive digital approach of business customers to the development of an innovative chemical trading platform, which is currently being tested. With the new business models, "digital technical services" are particularly important to make customer production even more efficient.

About the company

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.


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