Until now, only fossil raw materials were used for the production of aniline. Aniline plays an important role in the chemical industry and is used as starting material for numerous products. Covestro has collaborated with partners on the development of a completely new process, initially in the laboratory.
Now, the company plans to further develop the new process together on a large scale. The first step is to upscale the process in a pilot plant with the ultimate goal of enabling the production of bio-based aniline on an industrial scale.
The industry currently derives aniline from benzene, a petroleum-based raw material. But industrial sugar, which is already derived on large scale from, for example, feed corn, straw and wood, can be used instead. The newly developed process uses a microorganism as a catalyst to first convert the industrial sugar into an aniline precursor. The aniline is then derived by means of chemical catalysis in a second step.
Covestro Chief Commercial Officer Dr. Markus Steilemann said, “Being able to derive aniline from biomass is another key step towards making the chemical and plastics industries less dependent on fossil raw materials and market fluctuations. With this, we are pursuing our vision of making the world a brighter place.”