An open innovation programme to replace petroleum with CO2 as a feedstock in the manufacture of plastics today formally launches at K-Fair in Düsseldorf.
Led by Climate-KIC and Covestro, the EnCO2re programme has more than a dozen leading research partners in seven countries and is now ready to work with industrial partners to take CO2 re-use out of the laboratory and deploy it at scale.
The first commercial-scale applications of CO2 re-use could be polymers and chemical intermediates that are the basis of the plastics we use every day, including in our furniture, the panels that insulate our homes, and under the hood of our cars.
Greenhouse gas emissions are a major cause of man-made global warming. EnCO2re’s partners demonstrate that the CO2 re-use market has the potential to grow by more than 20 times its current size, reaching up to 3.7 billion tonnes per year – an amount equal to roughly 10% of global emissions. In this way it can complement efficiency and direct emissions reduction by helping us to:
- Shift away from fossil fuel feedstocks
- Manage the carbon footprints of large CO2 emitters
- Make plastics more environmentally sustainable
However, CO2 re-use technologies currently face technical, commercial and financial barriers to development and widespread deployment. EnCO2re is an innovation hub, partner network and market development programme aimed at breaking down those barriers.
Sira Saccani, Director of Sustainable Production Systems at Climate-KIC: “Cooperation between research and industry is essential to commercialising breakthrough technologies, and CO2 re-use is no exception. Through the EnCO2re programme, Climate-KIC is bringing together top research institutes with industrial partners to turn CO2 from an environmental threat to a valuable industrial feedstock.”
EnCO2re’s aim is a balanced and prosperous large-scale market for re-used CO2 through the establishment of a CO2 value chain, beginning with a focus on polymers and chemical intermediates.
EnCO2re already has active, world-class projects in two of the three main CO2-to-chemical conversion routes: catalysis and electrochemistry. It will be adding projects covering the biological route in 2017.
Catalysis and electrochemistry technologies are at different levels of readiness across the programme portfolio. Some are currently proof-of-concept, while others, like CroCO2PETs, are taking steps toward market readiness by working with producers to validate performance against the industry-standard properties of conventional materials.
Underpinning all projects is a rigorous, peer-reviewed examination of the life-cycle environmental impacts of CO2 re-use.
Dr. Christoph Sievering, Head of Energy Strategy and Policy at Covestro, says: “Cooperation between industry and science, in addition to active dialogue with society and policymakers, is essential to commercializing breakthrough technologies. Through CO2 re-use and other innovations, it’s clear that industry can and will be part of the solution to climate change.”