The Carbon4PUR project, a consortium of 14 partners from 8 countries, is exploring how flue gas from the steel industry can be used to produce plastics in an efficient and sustainable way.
The use of carbon dioxide and other waste gases as a new source of raw materials is increasingly a topic of interest at the European level. The new consortium, led by materials manufacturer Covestro, is now planning to investigate how flue gas from the steel industry can be used to produce plastics in a particularly efficient and sustainable way. This will save crude oil, the raw material used in conventional methods. The cross-sector project is receiving funding from the European Union.
Collaboration of value chain partners
The new project introduces an unprecedented cooperation along the entire value chain, extending from the waste gas source to the plastics manufacturer: Flue gas is provided by steel manufacturer Arcelor Mittal to feed the production of polyurethane intermediates at Covestro. Polyurethane manufacturers Recticel N.V. in Belgium and Megara Resins S.A. in Greece are involved as downstream producers, testing the intermediates for the manufacturing of rigid foams and polymer dispersions. The Port of Marseille Fos, an industrial production site for both Covestro and ArcelorMittal, is the model site for which the industrial symbiosis concept will be evaluated.
Leading European research and technology support partners are involved to develop and evaluate the Carbon4PUR technology: the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission and RWTH Aachen for process design and catalyst development; Ghent University for flue gas treatment; Leiden University and TU Berlin for life cycle and techno-economic assessment; DECHEMA and Imperial College London for mapping and assessing potential replication sites for the technology; sustainability solutions provider South Pole Group for investigating social impacts and mechanisms for market uptake; PNO Consultants for value chain and stakeholder analysis.
Significant carbon reductions
The European Union is supporting Carbon4PUR under the auspices of SPIRE, the European Public-Private Partnership, dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency enabled by the process industries. About eight million euros are provided for the time of three years. The industrial partners will leverage this contribution by further investments.
Specifically, the project aims to use mixtures of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are generated during steel production, to produce polyols – key components of polyurethane-based insulating materials and coatings that are otherwise obtained from crude oil.
How it works: The unique Carbon4PUR technology valorises steel off-gas without previous cleaning or the separation of gas components. This flexible and energy efficient technology will allow a reduction of the CO2 footprint of polyurethane production by 20-60% and will substitute at least 15% of the oil-based reactants by waste-gas based carbon.
"The Carbon4PUR technology gives opportunity to the industry to become less fossil fuel dependent and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says Julia Breu of South Pole, a leading sustainability solutions provider. "South Pole will evaluate Carbon4PUR's social values, benefits and impacts including quantifying the social and environmental impacts related to the Sustainable Development Goals. We will also conduct an assessment of carbon market tools and mechanisms for market uptake."
For more information on Carbon4Pur, read the project overview or follow the consortium's latest updates on the project's official website (https://www.carbon4pur.eu/) and Twitter (@Carbon4PUR)
About Horizon2020: Horizon 2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.