Hot Seat: Marlene Baumhardt | CYNiO

Last updated on: 12 Jun, 2024

Translated with

Producing isocyanates without phosgene and using carbon dioxide? Is that possible? CPO Marlene B. from CYNiO explains to us in a Hot Seat Interview what role the university spin-off plays in this.

Dear Marlene, you recently successfully received an Exist grant, congratulations! Please give us a brief overview of CYNiO, where you came from and where you currently stand.

CYNiO is a spin-off project of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, which is based on a more than ten-year-old discovery at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry: the production of isocyanates with CO2. Today, our dynamic team consists of three scientists and a business economist with start-up experience, who together have the vision of bringing this novel technology to industry and making the chemical industry more sustainable. Our project is made possible by the EXIST start-up grant from the BMWK. We have an exciting challenge ahead of us in the coming year: we will continue to scale up our patented process and further develop our business model. Our goal is to get out of the gram laboratory scale so that we can soon become an entrepreneur.

Isocyanates are bulk chemicals and only a few chemicals from this group are commercially available, the structural diversity is very limited. Where does CYNiO come into play here?

Because we produce isocyanates without the highly toxic phosgene, there is no need for the complex safety precautions normally associated with it. Our process impresses with its process-related flexibility and is suitable for both aromatic and aliphatic isocyanates. This significantly lowers the hurdle for tackling new syntheses. With this innovative method, we will be able to offer a greater variety of specialty isocyanates in the future than the current market allows.

Today, the chemical industry faces many major challenges, including in the area of sustainability and supply chain security. Looking to the future, what role can CYNiO play in this transformation?

The whole world is working to find solutions to the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. It is foreseeable that technologies for the provision of green CO2 will become more effective and green CO2 will become increasingly available as a raw material. This is where processes like ours come into play. We want to demonstrate the potential of our technologies and use them as a tool to make the chemical industry more sustainable. At the same time, we want to ensure that isocyanate production in Europe remains viable for the future. Because that is where we want to produce – in the heart of Europe. So that the customer knows where the isocyanates come from.

Is there anything else you would like to pass on to our readers?

Yes, with pleasure! Even though we would like to offer our customers a wide range of new isocyanates in the future, we know that many products are already being manufactured with conventional isocyanates. We are therefore looking for partners and customers who are willing to test our CO2-based mono-isocyanates in their production processes. If you are interested and would like to work with us to make chemistry more sustainable, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Marlene B. is an experienced chemist in areas such as inert gas technology, silicon chemistry, organic chemistry, polymer synthesis, isocyanates, chlorosilanes and siloxanes thanks to her experience as a biological-technical assistant and her doctoral thesis at the Technical University of Freiberg. The EXIST scholarship will pave the way for founding this company. Together with three other colleagues, she will spin off the company CYNiO from the university and take on the position of CPO.