Action 1: Reducing industrial process emissions and using CO2 as a raw material

We will use CO2 and other waste gases as raw materials, avoid emissions of greenhouse gases and develop solutions for sustainable primary industries.

Where do we stand?

Climate protection and having a competitive industry are not incompatible. We want to reduce the carbon footprint of industry in the long term: directly, by optimising processes and increasing efficiency using new technologies and processes, and indirectly, by using CO2 as a raw material (Carbon Capture and Utilisation, or CCU for short). This can significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels in industry as a whole.

What are the research needs?

The avoidance of process-related emissions from industry – especially from primary industries – can be achieved in several ways: 1) by increasing process efficiency, 2) by switching to renewable energy sources, 3) by using CO2 as a raw material, and 4) by using completely new process approaches. In addition to the purely technical feasibility, it is important that the climate-neutral raw materials produced in this way can be produced or supplied competitively. Considerable research is needed, for example, to produce CO2-free steel.

The efficient use of CO2 as a carbon source, combined with renewable electricity and recycling, has the potential to pave the way to a circular economy and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of industries and products. The state of technical development of the various CO2-use technologies varies greatly and requires research approaches at different levels. In addition to processes that are already marketable, there are also some promising approaches that are still in even earlier stages of development. These include innovative ideas such as artificial photosynthesis, where water and CO2 are used to produce various products such as hydrogen, fuels or chemicals directly from sunlight

Implementation steps and milestones

  • With a new funding priority for the avoidance of climate-impacting industrial process emissions, we are devoting ourselves from 2021 onwards to the development of processes and process combinations that contribute to avoiding greenhouse gases in key industries such as the metal and chemical industries and the cement and lime industry. In addition to technological innovations, this also takes account of their competitiveness and the extent to which they are embedded in the economic environment.
  • From 2020 onwards, the Carbon2Chem project will expand the large-scale recycling of emissions from steel production. To complement this, we are funding the development of innovations that replace coal with hydrogen as a reducing agent in steel production. Further funding priorities will be initiated with a view to the production of sustainable electricity- based fuels and chemicals.
  • From 2020, in addition to Carbon2Chem, we will also be promoting the development of other CCU technologies for the use of CO2 as a sustainable carbon source for industry. By 2024/2025, this will have thus identified concrete CO2 use potentials and created the prerequisites for the ongoing industry-driven development of processes to reduce process emissions. Between 2025 and 2030, we will bring competitive processes and demonstration plants to market maturity on an industrial scale.
  • With the implementation of the Research and Innovation Agenda for the utilisation of CO2 as a raw material source in a carbon cycle economy by 2025, we will consolidate research approaches and support paths to industrial application.
  • From 2020, we will also provide targeted support for promising new approaches such as artificial photosynthesis, in particular through a research partnership with the USA.

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