On the global front, Covestro has made breakthroughs with initiatives such as Solar Impulse and CO2 plant. According to Ajay Durrani, MD, Covestro India, Covestro has identified focus areas in India pertaining to issues that are highly relevant in the local context.
How is Covestro taking advantage of India's smart cities mission?
While India has a good urban infrastructure, the smart cities mission was introduced to fast track the development planned for some of the cities identified. One of the key components of this mission is to facilitate the adoption of energy-efficient cities. As an organisation that is driven by the core value of making the world a better place, all our efforts are directed towards sustainable innovation.
Polymer products are versatile in their application and are widely used in construction and electronic appliances. They have a tendency to improve the energy efficiency of the products they are used in. Covestro offers technology and products to help enhance the energy efficiency of buildings. Insulation boards, spray foam and composite materials made of polyurethane foam can be used virtually everywhere - in the building envelope and the facade; roofs; windows and doors; ceilings and floors as a part of interior finishing or for pipe lines. The insulating performance of polymer products saves up to 30 per cent of energy.
In addition to improving insulation, polyurethanes can help protect buildings. They are used in the form of coatings and adhesives formulated with raw materials from Covestro protect and extend the service life of components. Rust is effectively prevented, and elements subject to heavy use, such as floors, do not wear as quickly and are easier to install and maintain.
Additionally, Covestro's polycarbonate resin used for LED diffusers and sheets for light roofing offer tremendous design flexibility and lightweight solutions. These offerings, through their tremendous contribution to increasing carbon productivity, help create low energy clusters and enable fruition of the smart cities mission.
Why is Covestro excited about India's smart cities mission and what are the areas on radar?
Sustainability is the essence of Covestro's activities. As an organisation, we are continuously striving towards providing solutions to make peoples' lives better. When the government introduces initiatives that are aligned with our mission, it provides a tremendous boost to our activities. We are excited by the smart cities mission because a robust policy framework gives us an opportunity to work with the government, intensify our activities and reach out to as many lives as possible. We aim to contribute to smart buildings, smart infrastructure, smart mobility and smart energy. Our projects and actions align with the UN Sustainable Development goals, which will help us to provide better technology and solutions to the under-served markets.
Covestro is a pioneer in providing advanced technological solutions to the Indian market. Tell us about some of the advanced technology deployed?
Covestro believes in providing localised solutions that address issues unique to each region. While on the global front we have made breakthroughs by initiatives such as Solar Impulse and CO2 plant, in India we have identified the focus areas for Covestro based on issues that are highly relevant in the local context. Some of these initiatives include STEM workshop for girls and setting up mini-science centres in schools with weak infrastructure (which is an extension of the STEM initiative). Affordable modular houses in Rajasthan and New Delhi use PIR/PUR panels. They have been made either by integrating conventional construction technology with Covestro's pre-fabricated (polyisocyanurate) PIR panel technology or by using cement fibre board with polyurethane foam and honeycomb. These projects are aimed at not only providing low cost houses, but also reducing overall cement consumption by half by use of innovative technology. The excellent insulation properties of PIR panels make the houses more energy efficient and thus very cost effective. The panels are lightweight, fire resistant, heat resistant, weather proof and smell proof.
After having successfully developed cost-effective solutions for affordable housing, Covestro announced its intention to construct 10 lakh toilets in India by 2022 under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Covestro has partnered with Assist India Foundation based in Chennai to deploy its innovations in Vridachallam Municipal Middle School, near Cuddalore, which is also one of its production sites. An example of fit-for-purpose technology implementation is the panels made from agro waste board combined with paper honeycomb, fabricated into toilets in Osmanabad and Greater Noida.
Have you come across any challenges considering that the mission is in its initial stages?
Every country has its own socio-cultural and economic dynamics that we need to deal with while operating in that country. Covestro has to comply with the environmental and manufacturing regulations that are in place in India. With regard to expansion, we have not faced any specific challenges in India. Conversely, we believe that we can contribute to providing sustainable solutions to tackling issues such as food wastage and increased energy consumption that India is currently facing by supporting government initiatives such as Swacch Bharat Mission and affordable housing. The nodal agencies which look into the adoption of new technologies for providing better service to the citizens are sensitive to meeting their needs. However, the implementation process could be made better and faster.
Tell us about your expansion and investment plans for 2017û18 for India?
India is a significant and growing market for Covestro. We have an ambitious target to make India a brighter place. In the short term, our growth plans include driving the consumption of our high-tech polymers through innovative and collaborative projects and activities, and in the long term, we seek to explore further investment opportunities in India, once the threshold levels are achieved.
Our growth plans are as inclusive as possible as we truly want to live up to the motto #Pushing Boundaries. Therefore, we engage in creating an ecosystem for sustainability through initiatives such as STEM education for girls and providing skill development opportunities. We are in India for the long haul.
What is your view on the water and wastewater treatment market? How is industry likely to meet the growing demand for clean and sustainable water?
Many industrial processes produce substantial amounts of wastewater with very high salt concentrations. Wastewater thus produced is a serious pollutant if it finds its way into water bodies, particularly rivers and lakes used for potable water treatment. Action is therefore required to develop new, environment-friendly and economically-viable processes for the treatment and use of wastewater.
To address this concern, Covestro and its partners from the industry and academia are searching for new ways to recover salt and water from industrial wastewater in as environment-friendly manner as possible. We are heading a research project with this as its objective. The aim is to use the treated salt and purified wastewater in electrolysis processes to produce chlorine. In India, we are partnering with Levapor to introduce PU Foam technology in biodegradable waste treatment.
It is estimated that Class-I cities (423) and Class-II towns (449) generate more than 33,000 mld of sewage against the existing treatment capacity of 10,000 mld in India. How do we overcome such mismatch?
With the help of solutions developed by Covestro and partners like Levapor, we can upgrade existing 10,000 MLD STP plants for getting better performance, meeting new discharge standards as well as increasing the treatment capacity of existing plants. Thus, with solutions based on our materials, we can help in filling the gap between sewage generation and sewage treated with less infrastructure intensive processes. Recently, our partner Levapor has installed one MLD STP plant for a municipal corporation and is about to commission a 16 MLD plant for an industrial house. The project costs vary from Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore.
At present, which wastewater technology is currently in vogue?
Moving Bed Bio Reactor (MBBR) and Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) are well-established wastewater treatment processes. These processes utilise tiny media for microbial growth.
What is your opinion of the overall water and wastewater treatment market in India? How will this industry meet the increasing demand in future?
The segments that come under the water and water recycling industry are water treatment, ETP (Effluent Treatment Plant), STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) and water recycling. In emerging countries, growing urbanisation in conjunction with economic development is creating a greater need for efficient water management solutions. There is visible growth in the global manufacturing space, which in turn is generating more demand and escalating production in various industries. This situation calls for greater emphasis to be laid on water and water recycling, considering the growing need for water conservation and the tightening environmental norms.