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(c) BioRECO2ver Project
19.01.2022

nova-Institute: BioRECO2VER project - Conversion of CO2 into chemical building blocks

CO2 as renewable carbon source
Carbon is the main element in numerous materials used in industrial processes and in our daily lives. It is currently mostly provided from fossil sources. But what if carbon could be used directly from CO2 emissions? Biotechnology shows particularly great potential for the eco-effective conversion of climate-damaging CO2 emissions into valuable basic chemicals. A consortium of 12 partners investigated this pathway in the EU-funded BioRECO2VER project, examining the conversion of CO2 emissions from refineries and the cement industry into the chemical building blocks isobutene (C4H8) and lactate (C2H6O3).

CO2 as renewable carbon source
Carbon is the main element in numerous materials used in industrial processes and in our daily lives. It is currently mostly provided from fossil sources. But what if carbon could be used directly from CO2 emissions? Biotechnology shows particularly great potential for the eco-effective conversion of climate-damaging CO2 emissions into valuable basic chemicals. A consortium of 12 partners investigated this pathway in the EU-funded BioRECO2VER project, examining the conversion of CO2 emissions from refineries and the cement industry into the chemical building blocks isobutene (C4H8) and lactate (C2H6O3).

Innovative chemo-enzymatic concept for CO2 Capture
Project partner Luleå University of Technology (LTU) focused on the first process step of capturing and concentrating CO2 from industrial point sources. Their team developed a hybrid chemo-enzymatic process consisting of a novel solvent blend and an ultrastable carbonic anhydrase (CA) enzyme. The solvent blend included an amino acid ionic liquid and a tertiary amine and displayed a good compromise between enzyme compatibility, absorption rate, capacity and desorption potential. In addition, LTU generated ultrastable enzyme mutants that showed 50% increased resistance to selected flue gas inhibitors compared to the original CA. This 3-component CO2 capture process was scaled up in a pilot rig, and the set-up further used for real off gas pre-treatment in the project.

Two unique pilots for biotechnological CO2 Conversion/Utilization
The biotechnological conversion of (captured) CO2 and the co-substrate hydrogen by microorganisms poses technical and economic challenges because it takes place in the liquid phase and the substrates are gases which are poorly soluble. The BioRECO2VER project investigated two approaches to address this: fermentation under elevated pressure and bio-electrochemistry with in situ production of hydrogen.

Pressurized fermenter
Project coordinator VITO designed a flexible and multifunctional high-pressure fermenter, customized for research activities with advanced online sensors, monitoring and control, and also including a membrane filtration unit to achieve high concentrations of the microbial biocatalysts. The set-up was broadly tested in the BioRECO2VER project both with pure CO2 and CO2-rich off-gases but can also be used for investigations involving other poorly soluble gases, such as methane, oxygen, or synthesis gas. Pressures up to 10 bar can be applied.

First solely CO2-based bio-electrochemical platform
University of Girona designed and tested a bio-electrochemical platform. The key differentiators of the pilot plant are:

  • Two parallel lines to test engineered strains and bio-electrochemical systems
  • Fully automated pilot plant capable to control key operational parameters (pCO2, pO2, pH2, pH, Temperature) to intensify the process performance
  • Solid-liquid separation unit (membrane) to recover the planktonic cells and return them into the bio-electrochemical systems.

This unique infrastructure will be used beyond the project to support further research and development activities in the broad area of CO2 capture and conversion.

Source:

nova-Institut GmbH

Political Tailwind for Alternative Carbon Sources (c) Renewable Carbon Initiative
European Policy under the new green deal
22.12.2021

Political Tailwind for Alternative Carbon Sources

  • More than 30 leading pioneers of the chemical and material sector welcome the latest political papers from Brussels, Berlin and Düsseldorf

The political situation for renewable carbon from biomass, CO2 and recycling for the defossilisation of the chemical and materials industry has begun to shift fundamentally in Europe. For the first time, important policy papers from Brussels and Germany take into consideration that the term decarbonisation alone is not sufficient, and that there are important industrial sectors with a permanent and even growing carbon demand. Finally, the need for a sustainable coverage of this carbon demand and the realisation of sustainable carbon cycles have been identified on the political stage. They are elemental to the realisation of a sustainable chemical and derived materials industry.

  • More than 30 leading pioneers of the chemical and material sector welcome the latest political papers from Brussels, Berlin and Düsseldorf

The political situation for renewable carbon from biomass, CO2 and recycling for the defossilisation of the chemical and materials industry has begun to shift fundamentally in Europe. For the first time, important policy papers from Brussels and Germany take into consideration that the term decarbonisation alone is not sufficient, and that there are important industrial sectors with a permanent and even growing carbon demand. Finally, the need for a sustainable coverage of this carbon demand and the realisation of sustainable carbon cycles have been identified on the political stage. They are elemental to the realisation of a sustainable chemical and derived materials industry.

The goal is to create sustainable carbon cycles. This requires comprehensive carbon management of renewable sources, which includes carbon from biomass, carbon from Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) – the industrial use of CO2 as an integral part – as well as mechanical and chemical recycling. And only the use of all alternative carbon streams enables a true decoupling of the chemical and materials sector from additional fossil carbon from the ground. Only in this way can the chemical industry stay the backbone of modern society and transform into a sustainable sector that enables the achievement of global climate goals. The Renewable Carbon Initiative’s (RCI) major aim is to support the smart transition from fossil to renewable carbon: utilising carbon from biomass, CO2 and recycling instead of additional fossil carbon from the ground. This is crucial because 72% of the human-made greenhouse gas emissions are directly linked to additional fossil carbon. The RCI supports all renewable carbon sources available, but the political support is fragmented and differs between carbon from biomass, recycling or carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). Especially CCU has so far not been a strategic objective in the Green Deal and Fit-for-55.

This will change fundamentally with the European Commission's communication paper on “Sustainable Carbon Cycles” published on 15 December. The position in the paper represents an essential step forward that shows embedded carbon has reached the political mainstream – supported by recent opinions from members of the European parliament and also, apparently, by the upcoming IPCC assessment report 6. Now, CCU becomes a recognised and credible solution for sustainable carbon cycles and a potentially sustainable option for the chemical and  material industries. Also, in the political discussions in Brussels, the term “defossilation” is appearing more and more often, complementing or replacing the term decarbonisation in those areas where carbon is indispensable. MEP Maria da Graça Carvahlo is among a number of politicians in Brussels who perceive CCU as an important future industry, putting it on the political map and creating momentum for CCU. This includes the integration of CCU into the new Carbon Removal Regime and the Emission Trading System (ETS).

As the new policy documents are fully in line with the strategy of the RCI, the more than 30 member companies of the initiative are highly supportive of this new development and are ready to support policy-maker with data and detailed suggestions for active support and the realisation of sustainable carbon cycles and a sound carbon management. The recent political papers of relevance are highlighted in the following.

Brussels: Communication paper on “Sustainable Carbon Cycles”
On 15 December, the European Commission has published the communication paper “Sustainable Carbon Cycles” . For the first time, the importance of carbon in different industrial sectors is clearly stated. One of the key statements in the paper is the full recognition of CCU for the first time as a solution for the circular economy, which includes CCU-based fuels as well. The communication paper distinguishes between bio-based CO2, fossil CO2 and CO2 from direct air capture when addressing carbon removal and it also announces detailed monitoring of the different CO2 streams. Not only CCU, but also carbon from the bioeconomy is registered as an important pillar for the future. Here, the term carbon farming has been newly introduced, which refers to improved land management practices that result in an increase of carbon sequestration in living biomass, dead organic matter or soils by enhancing carbon capture or reducing the release of carbon. Even though the list of nature-based carbon storage technologies is non-exhaustive in our view, we strongly support the paper’s idea to deem sustainable land and forest management as a basis for the bioeconomy more important than solely considering land use as a carbon sink. Surprisingly, chemical recycling, which is also an alternative carbon source that substitutes additional fossil carbon from the ground (i.e. carbon from crude oil, natural gas or from coal), is completely absent from the communication paper.

Berlin: Coalition paper of the new German Government: “Dare more progress – alliance for freedom, justice and sustainability”
The whole of Europe is waiting to see how the new German government of Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals will shape the German climate policy. The new reform agenda focuses in particular on solar and wind energy as well as especially hydrogen. Solar energy is to be expanded to 200 GW by 2030 and two percent of the country's land is to be designated for onshore wind energy. A hydrogen grid infrastructure is to be created for green hydrogen, which will form the backbone of the energy system of the future – and is also needed for e-fuels and sustainable chemical industry, a clear commitment to CCU. There is a further focus on the topic of circular economy and recycling. A higher recycling quota and a product-specific minimum quota for the use of recyclates and secondary raw materials should be established at European level. In the coalition paper, there is also a clear commitment to chemical recycling to be found. A significant change for the industry is planned to occur in regards to the so-called “plastic tax” of 80 cents per kilogram of non-recycled plastic packaging. This tax has been implemented by the EU, but most countries are not passing on this tax to the manufacturers and distributors, or only to a limited extent. The new German government now plans to fully transfer this tax over to the industry.

Düsseldorf: Carbon can protect the climate – Carbon Management Strategy North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)
Lastly, the RCI highly welcomes North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW, Germany) as the first region worldwide to adopt a comprehensive carbon management strategy, a foundation for the transformation from using additional fossil carbon from the ground to the utilisation of renewable carbon from biomass, CO2 and recycling. For all three alternative carbon streams, separate detailed strategies are being developed to achieve the defossilisation of the industry. This is all the more remarkable as North Rhine-Westphalia is the federal state with the strongest industry in Germany, in particular the chemical industry. And it is here, of all places, that a first master plan for the conversion of industry from fossil carbon to biomass, CO2 and recycling is implemented. If successful, NRW could become a global leader in sustainable carbon
management and the region could become a blueprint for many industrial regions.

29.09.2021

The Renewable Materials Conference 2022

  • 10–12 May 2022, Cologne, Germany (hybrid)
  • The unique concept of presenting all renewable material solutions at one event hits the mark: bio-based, CO2-based and recycled are the only alternatives to fossil-based chemicals and materials

Ready-to-use fossil-free sustainable material solutions with a low carbon footprint are in fast-growing demand. Innovative brand owners are keeping an eye out for such solutions, in particular those that will soon reach the mainstream.

  • 10–12 May 2022, Cologne, Germany (hybrid)
  • The unique concept of presenting all renewable material solutions at one event hits the mark: bio-based, CO2-based and recycled are the only alternatives to fossil-based chemicals and materials

Ready-to-use fossil-free sustainable material solutions with a low carbon footprint are in fast-growing demand. Innovative brand owners are keeping an eye out for such solutions, in particular those that will soon reach the mainstream.

For the second time, nova-Institute presents numerous market highlights from bio- and CO2-based chemicals and materials as well as from chemical recycling: All material solutions based on renewable carbon. Together, there is sufficient potential to completely replace petrochemicals by 2050. To tackle climate change at its roots, all additional fossil carbon from the ground must be substituted with renewable alternatives. Over the course of three days, participants will get a comprehensive overview of the latest developments in the renewable material sector, with a focus on industry-ready solutions from a wide spectrum of sustainable raw materials and technologies.

In 2021, the new concept of the Renewable Materials Conference generated an outstanding response, which exceeded all expectations: 420 online participants witnessed a firework of innovations of non-fossil material. 60 speakers, 11 panel discussions, 500 public posts and 1,500 networking activities were proof of the lively exchange during the three conference days.

In 2022, nova-Institute plans to host the conference physically in the heart of Germany's fourth largest city, Cologne, just a few hours away from France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Expected are 400 participants on-site and many more online. On-site, the conference will be accompanied by a large exhibition where companies and institutes can showcase their recent developments. The supporting program, networking activities and many secluded spots at the location offers excellent opportunities to make new business contacts and refresh old ones.

The focus of the conference: All material solutions based on renewable carbon – avoiding the use of additional fossil carbon. The entire spectrum of renewable materials is covered: bio-based, CO2- based and recycled.

The program includes a diverse range of bio-based materials such as bio-based polymers, plastics and biocomposites (first and second generation, biowaste), CO2-based materials (from fossil and biogenic point sources, atmosphere) as well as mechanically and chemically recycled materials.

Source:

nova-Institut GmbH