The ten-year research project "Carbon2Chem" is developing ways of converting steel mill gases into raw materials for chemical products. Much of the greenhouse gas CO2 contained in these gases would then no longer be discharged into the atmosphere. 16 further partners from the areas of basic and applied research and various sectors of industry are involved in the project. Carbon2Chem is being funded by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Essen/Germany –In recognition of this exemplary commitment to climate protection Dr. Heinrich Dornbusch, Senior Managing Director of the climate change initiative Klima Expo.NRW, officially added the project to the initiative at the 21st Expert Congress on Future Energies organized by Energie-Agentur.NRW. To symbolize this 221st step of the "1,000 steps into the future" which Klima Expo.NRW will be presenting up to 2022, Dr. Heinrich Dornbusch took shoe prints from Dr. Reinhold Achatz, Chief Technology Officer of Thyssenkrupp.
At present, gases from steel production are mainly used in power plants to produce electrical energy and heat for the production processes. But the process gases - including CO2 - could also be used as raw materials. This would also mean that the greenhouse gas CO2 would no longer be discharged into the atmosphere. The energy required for the chemical processes is to come from excess electricity from renewable sources. It will be roughly ten years before the technology is ready for industrial-scale use.
New catalysts and processes needed
The basic chemical processes and technologies required for the industrial use of steel mill gases are largely known. It is already technically possible to convert process gases from steel production into ammonia as a starting product for fertilizers, though not yet cost-efficiently. This process would also recycle part of the CO2 contained in the steel mill gases. Another possibility would be to produce methanol from mill gases, a process which would recycle almost all the CO2 they contain.
But fluctuations in the generation of energy from renewables still present a challenge: Catalysts are needed for the chemical conversion process that can cope with these sharp fluctuations. More research and development work is required in this area. Cost-efficient methods of producing hydrogen - even with sharp fluctuations in the energy supply - will also have to be developed. Scrubbing and preparation of the steel mill gases is another area requiring further research.
Carbon2Chem as pilot project
Work started last November on the construction of a technical center on the premises of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg. The Carbon2Chem processes will be tested in a pilot plant at the roughly 2,600 square meter building complex to translate the results of basic research to industrial scale. The center is scheduled for completion in spring 2018.
16 further partners from the areas of basic and applied research and various sectors of industry are involved in the Carbon2Chem project. BMBF is providing over 60 million euros of funding for Carbon2Chem.