The Urethane Blog

Covestro Celebrates 3MM Tons of TDI

Via Google Translate . . .

Monday – June 24, 2019
Covestro writes a Dormagener success story:
Three million tons of TDI!

Soft foam component for mattresses and car seats / 55 years of experience in the Dormagen TDI production / TDI system went into operation in 2014$FILE/2019-094.jpg
Three million TDI: Covestro site manager in Dormagen Rob Eek congratulated TDI operations manager Andreas Rausch and the entire operations team.

It is a real tongue twister: tolylene diisocyanate, short TDI. Behind the complex name is a liquid raw material from which flexible polyurethane foams are produced. Covestro has been producing TDI in Dormagen for 55 years and has now produced the three millionth tonne.

The daily production of the TDI plant in Chempark Dormagen alone is sufficient today to produce 200,000 mattresses. Given such amounts, even the princess would sleep comfortably on the pea. But the high-tech material not only ensures sweet dreams. Much of the production goes into the automotive industry to make car seats. The special isocyanate also sets trends in fashion: as a shoulder pad or in bra cups, it cuts a fine figure.

“The production of TDI is one of our focal points here in Dormagen. At the same time, the TDI plant is a milestone in terms of efficiency and environmental compatibility. Thanks to state-of-the-art plant technology, we are able to produce the important raw material for flexible foams in a resource-saving and environmentally friendly manner, “says production manager in Dormagen. Rob Eek’s TDI production in Dormagen.

55-year track record in TDI production
The Dormagener success story began in 1964 in the western part of the site. TDI production started at a rate of 24,000 tons per year and grew steadily to 75,000 tons capacity. In 2014, today’s world-scale plant with 300,000 tonnes went into operation in Ostwerk and took over production. It fits perfectly into the fabric of the site: the starting product toluenediamine (TDA) comes from the neighboring plant. Raw materials such as toluene, hydrogen and nitric acid are also produced in Dormagen.

“The new plant is one of three Covestro production sites for TDI worldwide,” explains Dr. Andreas Rausch, head of the TDI plant in Dormagen. “Sister plants are located in southern China’s Caojing and Baytown, USA. The Dormagener operation is the youngest and has the most modern technology “, continues Rausch. The technical know-how of the employees from the old plant ensured continuity in production. In its predecessor business, among other things, GPP technology (gas phase phosgenation) was developed in 2004, which consumes 80 percent less solvent and up to 60 percent less energy than conventional liquid phosgenation to date.

Another special feature from the history: The shipping company, which takes care of the storage, filling and shipping of the TDI, has remained old – in the Westwerk. The TDI enters the storage tank of the shipping company via a pipeline, is then filled up and transported to the customer. They make flexible foams for a wide variety of applications.

How is foam made of TDI?
Foam is formed by the addition of polyols, which combine in a so-called polyaddition reaction with the TDI. The mixing ratio varies depending on the type of polyol and the nature of the foam. For a mattress, for example, there are usually two parts of polyol on one part of TDI. The addition of water produces gaseous carbon dioxide in the reaction, which can no longer escape from the viscous mass and forms bubbles. The volume increases many times over.

The applications are diverse and constantly evolving. The basic idea is more than 70 years old. Otto Bayer, the inventor of polyurethane chemistry, was already looking for a raw material for fully synthetic fibers in the late 1930s – similar to nylon. A failed attempt in 1941 produced a mass that was completely blistered. The birth of the foam!


Andreas Rausch, head of the TDI plant in Dormagen