For many, the use of CO2 with the help of renewable energies is still a novelty. Most studies and investments focus on fuels in particular. However, a large number of chemicals and especially polymers can also be produced from CO2.
As a worldwide first, the nova-Institute published a study on this topic: “Carbon dioxide (CO2) as a chemical feedstock for polymers – technologies, polymers, developers and producers”. It will be introduced on 15-16 March 2018 at the “Conference on Carbon Dioxide as Feedstock for Fuels, Chemistry and Polymers” in Cologne, Germany.
The study investigates which polymers can be produced from CO2 from a technical point of view and which polymers are already being developed, produced and marketed by which company. A status report on a completely new and growing sector with high economic and sustainability potential.
The report shows various opportunities to produce building blocks and polymers based on CO2 via different pathways:
Chemical catalytic processes are used to produce chemicals such as aliphatic polycarbonates (APC), polypropylene carbonate (PPC), polyethylene carbonate (PEC), polylimonene carbonate (PLimC) and polyurethanes (PUR). Biotechnological approaches – fermentation of CO2 or CO2-rich syngases via microorganisms – lead to building blocks such as lactic acid and succinic acid, from which polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA) or polybutylene succinate (PBS) can be made. Polyhydroxy alkanoates (PHAs) are polymers which can be directly derived by fermentation of CO2 without any intermediate building blocks. Electrochemical pathways, for example to monoethylene glycol (MEG) which is used for the production polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are also described in the report. Also using CO2-based methanol can be a route to produce olefins via an already established process, the “Methanol to Olefin (MTO)” process.
First pilot, demonstration and commercial production plants are already installed in which CO2 is used either directly as a building block for polymers or indirectly in combination with other monomers that are not CO2-derived to obtain a large array of final plastics with tailor-made properties. A total of 30 companies from Asia, North America and Europe are already working on a large number of CO2-based polymers and plastics which are described in the report.
The report has 33 pages and is now available in the nova-Shop for 600 €: www.bio-based.eu/reports