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Carbon Dioxide

The Chemical Industry Tries to Recycle Carbon Dioxide Back Into Production

| Editor: Sonja Beyer

The chemical industry plans to extract carbon dioxide from its own emissions to produce products such as fine chemicals.
The chemical industry plans to extract carbon dioxide from its own emissions to produce products such as fine chemicals. (Picture: Fotolia; [M]-Frank)

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Gigatonnes of CO2 are released into the atmosphere worldwide, but the chemical industry is beginning to realize that the gas has very significant economic potential.

Industry worldwide releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is bad news for the environment because the gas contributes to the greenhouse effect. Allowing the gas, which contains carbon, to escape unused is also a waste of a valuable resource. The chemical industry is feverishly looking for something to replace oil, and it is now investigating ways of converting the environmentally harmful gas into useful products such as plastic, fine chemicals or active pharmaceutical ingredients. Researchers have already had some initial success. For example, Bayer Material Science and Bayer Technology Services working in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences in Aachen and the company RWE Power have developed a process to incorporate CO2 into plastics. In their project named Dream Production, the building of a pilot plant is scheduled where PPP (polyether polycarbonate polyole) is to be produced in kilogram scale.

Dr. Daniela Kruse can easily understand why recycling CO2 is better than releasing it into the atmosphere or storing it underground (Carbon Capture and Storage) which neither society at large nor many experts are totally comfortable with. In contrast to CCS, using CO2 as a raw material enhances value add. In her role as Senior Project Manager at the Eco2 Science-to-Business Center working under the direction of the strategic Creavis Technologies & Innovation unit at Evonik, Kruse is looking at ways of separating out CO2, and she is investigating possible synthesis paths using CO2 as a raw material.

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