Carbon4PUR project gives CO2 a second life by turning waste gas from steel industry into plastics

24 Jan 2019 by South Pole / Carbon4PUR News

The following is informed by a media release that originally appeared on the Covestro website.

Carbon4PUR, a pan-European consortium of 14 partners including sustainability solutions provider South Pole, has taken the next step in investigating how waste gas from the steel industry can be turned into chemicals for plastics.

On a laboratory-scale, the Carbon4PUR project has so far shown promising results with the first plastic precursors having been obtained from flue gases, such as CO2. Now, the consortium has started evaluating the ideal conditions for industrial-scale testing of the process in southern France, where a steel mill of ArcelorMittal and a chemical plant of polymer material producer, Covestro, are close neighbours.

Carbon4PUR will hold a field trip for representatives from industry, politics, media and authorities on March 20th in the port city of Fos-sur-Mer near Marseille to discuss its status and the future infrastructure needed to scale up research under real industrial conditions. Fos-sur-Mer could be a possible location for such a pilot plant.

"We must consider waste as a resource. A cross-sector approach as pursued by the Carbon4PUR consortium is the right way to reach this goal", says Dr. Markus Steilemann, CEO of Covestro. "Together, we can make more use of alternative carbon sources like CO2 in order to close the carbon loop and save direct fossil resources such as crude oil."

Researching industrial symbiosis

Carbon4PUR is a consortium of 14 industrial and academic partners from seven countries, coordinated by Covestro. The cross-sector project, which runs until 2020, receives funding from the European Union and aims at researching and developing a new technology that can transform steel mill gas streams such as CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO) into so-called polyols – chemical key components of polyurethane-based foams and coatings that are otherwise obtained from crude oil. The decisive idea is to avoid physical separation of CO and CO2 to make the process particularly efficient and economical.

Carbon4PUR is unique because it brings together partners from the whole value chain to work collaboratively on processes and specifications. For each step, different sectors have to cooperate in ways they have never done before. To date, the project has shown first promising results: Test quantities of polyol intermediates have been obtained both from CO and CO2.

The consortium will work on exploiting and transferring project results to key stakeholders and additional EU industries.

In the future, carbon as a feedstock in the form of mixed waste gases from the ArcelorMittal plant in Fos-sur-Mer could undergo catalytical transformations in the nearby Covestro plant to become a chemical intermediate. This could be further used by Belgium-based polyurethane foam manufacturer, Recticel, and Greek raw material supplier to the coatings industry, Megara Resins, to create products.

The academic and institutional partners in the consortium are RWTH Aachen University, TU Berlin, Dechema, Imperial College London, the universities of Gent and Leiden, the French Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, Grand Port Maritime de Marseille, PNO Consultants and global sustainability solutions provider, South Pole. They investigate the sustainability of Carbon4PUR and explore various technical and economical questions.

For further information on Carbon4PUR, watch this video:

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