The Carbon2Chem project explores how smelter gases from steel production can be used to create valuable primary products for fuels, plastics, or fertilizers. The Carbon2Chem approach is expected to make 20 million tonnes of the German steel industry's annual CO2 emissions economically exploitable in future. This represents 10 percent of the annual CO2 emissions from German industrial processes and manufacturing industry.
Industrielandschaft (thyssenkrupp)
The sector produces 43 million tonnes of steel each year. This is used to make cars, houses, and machines.

The sector produces 43 million tonnes of steel each year. This is used to make cars, houses, and machines.

photo: thyssenkrupp

Our prosperity crucially depends on the domestic steel industry with its roughly 90,000 employees. Germany is still Europe's largest steel producer. However, international competition is posing a threat to its competitiveness.

In the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015, all the states agreed to work towards limiting a global temperature rise to, if possible, 1.5 degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this objective, they must become climate neutral. From the second half of this century, countries must not emit more greenhouse gas than they can simultaneously cut down on. The steel sector, and also other energy-intensive industries, must therefore considerably reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

How can Germany remain competitive as a location for the steel industry? The Carbon2Chem project intends to provide an answer. Together with the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society and universities, eight industrial companies are working on a solution that can be deployed worldwide in order to convert blast furnace gases into primary products for fuels, plastics, or fertilizers.

Gruppenfoto mit 5 Männern vor Exponat (Rainer Schröer/thyssenkrupp)
Carbon2Chem kickoff (f.l.t.r.): Markus Oles (thyssenkrupp), Görge Deerberg (Fraunhofer UMSICHT), Karl Eugen Huthmacher (BMBF), Reinhold Achatz (thyssenkrupp) and Robert Schlögl (MPI-CEC).
photo: Rainer Schröer/thyssenkrupp

The hydrogen required for this solution is produced by the companies using surplus electricity from renewable energy sources. A new pilot plant is being constructed at a steel works in Duisburg in order to test innovative processes.

In the next ten years, the Carbon2Chem research project will develop a sustainable value chain linking various sectors so that climate protection will promote innovations on a cross-sector basis. It is not only the steel industry that will benefit from Carbon2Chem, as chemical companies will be able to exploit a new, clean source of raw materials.
At the same time, Carbon2Chem will answer two central questions of the Energiewende. How can electrical energy be stored and the electrical grid stabilized?

The research project is divided into the following seven subprojects:

  • L0: Project management and system integration (coordination: thyssenkrupp)
  • L1: Water electrolysis and grid stability (coordination: thyssenkrupp)
  • L2: Sustainable methanol production (coordination: AkzoNobel)
  • L3: Gas purification and catalysis (coordination: Linde)
  • L4: Higher alcohols and polyalcohols (coordination: Evonik)
  • L5: Polymers (coordination: Covestro)
  • L6: Oxymethylene ethers (coordination: BASF)

In Carbon2Chem, partners from science and industry are building a bridge between basic research and the market. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project with more than € 60 million. The partners involved intend to invest more than € 100 million by 2025. They have earmarked in excess of € 1 billion for commercial realization.

Last update: 05.10.2018