Germany: CO2-Reduction Chemical Industry to Use Waste Gas from Steel Factories to Make Plastic
A new consortium of 14 partners from seven countries, led by materials manufacturer Covestro, is planning to investigate how flue gas from the steel industry can be used to produce plastics in an efficient and sustainable way.
Leverkusen/Germany — This new process would save crude oil, the raw material used in conventional methods. The cross-sector project called Carbon 4 Pur receives funding from the European Union. About eight million euros are provided for the time of three years. The industrial partners will leverage this contribution by further investments.
The new project introduces a cooperation extending from the waste gas source to the plastics manufacturer. Specifically, the project aims to use mixtures of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are generated during steel production, to produce polyols — key components of polyurethane-based insulating materials and coatings that are otherwise obtained from crude oil.
The process being developed eliminates the resource intensive step of separating the waste gas into its different components. Instead, the gas mixture will be subjected to a chemocatalytic process and converted directly into building blocks and intermediates for polyurethanes. This can reduce its carbon footprint by 20 to 60 %.
The starting conditions for the industrial pilot project already exist in the southern French town of Fos-sur-Mer, an Arcelor Mittal steel factory and a Covestro production facility are close neighbours. The gas recovery project consortium includes academic and institutional partners such as RWTH Aachen University, TU Berlin, Dechema, Imperial College London, the universities of Gent and Leiden, the French Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, South Pole Carbon Asset Management, Grand Port Maritime de Marseille and PNO Innovatieadvies.
From its base in southern France, the Germany company could deliver its intermediate products to additional industrial partners, such as Recticel, a Belgium-based polyurethane foam manufacturer, and Megara Resins, a Greek supplier to the coatings industry.
Last year, the company began using carbon dioxide to produce a precursor for soft polyurethane foam, which is designed for use in upholstered furniture and mattresses. Meanwhile, the company is researching additional areas of application for CO2-based raw materials.