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CO2–Utilization

Carbon Capture Turns Climate–Killer–Gas Into Raw Material

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Carbon capture and utilisation: Discussion at the end of the first conference day.
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Carbon capture and utilisation: Discussion at the end of the first conference day. (Archiv: Vogel Business Media)

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CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), the dreaded climate killer gas, offers the potential to serve as a future feedstock for chemicals and polymers, as fossil carbon sources are becoming increasingly scarce. During a two–days conference at Hürth/Germany, experts from research and industry discussed the potentials and challenges of carbon Capture and CO2–utilization.

The terms CO2 economy and Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) are becoming an increasingly popular subject in the scientific and popular press. These terms refer broadly to the technical possibility of scrubbing CO2 from flue gases or from the atmosphere and using it as feedstock to produce chemicals, polymer and so-called “solar fuels“. “Solar fuels” are a generic term for a fuel based chemically on CO2 and water where a renewable energy source is stored.

The word "fuel" is intended in a broader sense, as it refers not only to fuel for transport and electricity generation, but also feedstock for industry. This inNovative concept now faces the transition from simple academic curiosity to a feedstock of growing importance to the chemical industry.

Leading Experts and 180 Participants from 22 Countries Discuss Carbon Capture

In order to pool together different representatives of this important and relatively new field, Nova-Institute (Hürth, Germany) organized a full two-day conference. This allowed the world’s leading universities and companies in the field of CO2 capture, purification and derived polymers, products and fuels to present and discuss their latest developments and outline their vision for the full-scale implementation of a CO2 economy.

This inspiring conference (in the words of many attendees) was entitled "CO2 as chemical feedstock for polymers and chemistry" and it was held on 10th and 11th October 2012 in the Haus der Technik in Essen. 180 participants from 22 different countries enjoyed the two-day event. It was sponsored by RWE AG and Bio Based Europe Pilot Plant (Belgium) and was under the patronage of the Ministry of InNovation, Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Other partners of the event were the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), the Cluster of Industrial Biotechnology of North Rhine-Westphalia (CLIB2021), the Flemish Institute of Technology (VITO) and Kunststoffland NRW.

Six Sessions Covering the Full Spectrum of CO2–Utilization

The conference was divided into six sections, one for each field of the CO2 economy. Every session discussed a specific topic related to the use of CO2 as future feedstock for the chemical industry in detail, laying out the challenges ahead and the milestones already achieved in the field. Prof. Michele Aresta from Bari University (Italy) and Dr. Gernot Klotz from the CEFIC showed in the early sessions clarified to the audience how the CO2 economy started out as a vision in the 80s and how this vision is now becoming a reality. Presentations and discussions covered fields ranging from the general vision of a CO2 economy and how it can change our industries and life in the future to more specific technical fields. These included CO2 capture and purification, the inNovative chemistry required, and the various commercial and pre-commercial polymers that already use CO2 in their production cycles. They also covered biotechnological processes for feeding microorganisms with CO2 to produce fuels or biomaterials, and direct CO2 reduction to hydrocarbons through chemical catalysis.

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