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Covestro Creates TPU for Shoes, Sportswear Using CO2 Technology

Covestro is developing and marketing it new Cardyon polyether carbonate polyols, innovatively produced with the aid of carbon dioxide (CO2), to be used in footwear and apparel products.

The use of CO2 as an ingredient instead of chemicals is fairly new, and its benefit as a naturally occurring substance makes it less harmful to the environment and helps close the carbon cycle loop, taking CO2 out of the environment.

Cardyon is a new polyether carbonate polyols and part of a series of thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) that also includes Covestro’s Demospan 37385A. With Cardyon, the company says it now offers the first representative of a new series of TPUs based on CO2 technology.

“The application spectrum covers typical applications of conventional TPU grades with comparable hardness, and ranges from soles and upper shoe components to sportswear, handles and knobs to packaging for sensitive electronics,” said Georg Fuchte, TPU expert at Covestro.

Compared to conventional TPU materials, the new products leave a lower carbon footprint and help close the carbon cycle, the company noted. They also conserve fossil resources and, unlike many bio-based materials, do not compete with food production.

“With the new TPU, our customers can reduce the carbon footprint of their products and as a result play a pioneering role in sustainability vis-à-vis their competitors,” Fuchte said. “This is especially true for companies in the consumer goods industry, which often manufacture products with a short lifespan.”

Covestro plans to expand the new TPU series with different degrees of hardness for specific products. These would include show components and trims and adornments for apparel.

The company said it works in concert with other companies and research institutions to use CO2 technology as a synthesis platform for other large-scale chemical raw materials. For example, work is underway on new CO2-based polyols for rigid polyurethane foams that could be used in the thermal insulation of buildings, automobiles and sports equipment.

Covestro is working on innovative TPU developments that include uniform and glossy TPU and polyamide fibers for knitted fabrics. The fibers have a special feel and are mainly used in sports shoes, where the use of knitted uppers has become fashionable. The fabrics can be produced economically in a single knitting process, including automated production.

With 2017 sales of 14.1 billion euros ($16.29 billion), Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide.