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 tons 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 the manufacturing industry.
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 states agreed to work towards limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this objective they must become climate neutral. From the second half of this century, countries are not allowed to 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. In cooperation with the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer Society and different universities, eight industrial companies are working on a solution that can be deployed worldwide in order to convert smelter gases into primary products for fuels, plastics, or fertilizers.
The hydrogen required for this solution is produced by the companies using surplus electricity from renewable energy sources. A new pilot plant, where researchers test their laboratory results with real smelter gases, was commissioned in September 2018 in Duisburg.
Within 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 energy transition. How can electrical energy be stored and how can the electrical grid be 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 about € 1 billion for commercial realization.
About the project
Duration: 15 March 2016 - 31 May 2020 (1st funding period)
BMBF-Funding: 60 million Euros
Project partners: AkzoNobel, BASF, Clariant, Covestro, Evonik, Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme (ISE), Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik (UMSICHT), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Linde, Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Energiekonversion, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, RWTH Aachen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Siemens, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, thyssenkrupp, Volkswagen, Zentrum für Brennstoffzellentechnik (ZBT)
Climate protection in the industry: Carbon2Chem focusses on the same topic area as the BMBF-feasibility study MACOR, which examines the SALCOS-concept in detail. SALCOS is a further alternative how CO2 emissions at steel plants can be further reduced. Contrary to Carbon2Chem, SALCOS will not utilize the blast furnace gases for chemical products, but will modify the initial process of steel making by integrating "green" hydrogen. As a consequence, SALCOS belongs to the CDA (Carbon Direct Avoidance) instruments while Carbon2Chem is part of the CCU (Carbon Capture and Usage/Utilisation) actions.