The pan-European research project Carbon4PUR is another step in the research to turn waste gases from the steel industry into chemical products for the production of plastics. Currently, the consortium is starting the evaluation of the ideal conditions for the industrial scale tests in the south of France, with the collaboration of a steel factory of ArcelorMittal and a chemical plant of the manufacturer of materials Covestro. In the laboratory, the Carbon4PUR project has shown promising results with the obtention of the first plastic precursors from combustion gases such as CO2, according to Covestro, the company that leads the project.
The next step of the consortium is to convene representatives from industry, politics, the media and the authorities to a trip, to take place on March 20 to the port city of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille. There the consortium intends to report on the status of the project and discuss the future infrastructure needed to expand research in real industrial environments. Fos-sur-Mer holds itself out as the appropriate location for a pilot plant of this type.
“We must consider waste as a resource, and as the Carbon4PUR consortium claims, the intersectorial approach is the best way to achieve this goal,” said Covestro CEO Markus Steilemann. “Together we can make greater use of alternative carbon sources as CO2 to close the carbon circuit and save direct fossil resources such as crude oil, “he concluded.
Researching into the industrial symbiosis
Coordinated by Covestro, Carbon4PUR is a consortium formed by 14 industrial and academic partners from seven countries. The intersectorial project, which will run until 2020, gets funds from the European Union and aims to develop a new technology that transforms the gas flows of the steel industry, waste gases such as CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO), in the so-called polyols, a key chemical component for the manufacture of polyurethane foams and coatings that would otherwise be obtained from crude oil. The idea is to avoid the physical separation of CO and CO2 so that the process is particularly efficient and more cost-effective.
Carbon4PUR is unique because it brings together partners from across the value chain to jointly work on the project. For each step, the different sectors have to cooperate through ways that had not been used before. To date, the project has shown the first promising results: the amounts of the polyol intermediates for testing purposes have been achieved from both CO and CO2. Thus, the consortium will work on the optimization and transfer of the project results to key sectors and other industries in the European Union.
Raw material in the form of waste gases
In the future, the use of carbon as a raw material in the form of mixed waste gases obtained from the ArcelorMittal plant in Fos-sur-Mer would be transformed by catalysis in the nearby Covestro plant to become an intermediate chemical product. In addition the Belgian manufacturer of polyurethane foams Recticel and the Greek supplier of coatings Megara Resins could use it to create final products. The academic and institutional partners are RWTH Aachen University, TU Berlin, Dechema, Imperial College London, the universities of Gent and Leiden, the French Commissariat of Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies, South Pole Carbon Asset Management, the Great Maritime Port of Marseille and PNO.