Time for CO2 re-use to get out of the laboratory and into the industry

Formal launch of EnCO2re program at K 2016

An EU program aimed at replacing petroleum with CO2 as a feedstock for plastics production formally launched at K 2016, in Dusseldorf, just a few days ago.

Led by Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest public-private partnership addressing climate change, and Covestro, the open innovation EnCO2re program has more than a dozen research partners in seven countries.  Now, with the official launch, the program is moving into the next phase: from the laboratory into the industry, helped along by such factors as the need for major emitters to better manage their CO2 footprint and by producers’ search for stability through feedstock diversification.

“CO2 re-use presents an opportunity to apply closed-loop processes to a large and growing industry,” said Ted Grozier, Program Manager at EnCO2re” EnCO2re is aimed squarely at seizing that opportunity -- and using it as a pillar of European competitive advantage.”

The first commercial-scale applications of CO2 re-use could be polymers and chemical intermediates. However, before CO2 re-use technologies become widespread, there are still some barriers - technical, commercial and financial - to overcome. EnCO2re is an innovation hub, partner network and market development program aimed at breaking down those barriers.

New technologies offer novel ways to re-use CO2, but current both research and business activities are fragmented and scattered across Europe. This program aims to bridge the gap between industry and research.

“Industry and academia need to work hand in hand to solve the world’s biggest challenges,” said Professor Charlotte Williams, Professor of Catalysis and Polymer Chemistry, Oxford University. “Being part of EnCO2re helps us collaborate with some of the world's CO2 re-use experts toward a common goal.”

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.

The willingness of industry to join the program signals its desire to work towards a solution to environmental problems. As Christoph Sievering, head of Energy Strategy and Policy at Covestro pointed out: “Cooperation between industry and science, in addition to active dialogue with society and policymakers, is essential to commercialising breakthrough technologies,” he said. “Through CO2 re-use and other innovations, it’s clear that industry can and will be part of the solution to climate change.”

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