Evonik and Siemens have commissioned a pilot plant that uses microorganisms to convert water and carbon dioxide into specialty chemicals.
The pilot plant has been built at Evonik’s site in Marl, Germany. It consists of electrolysers for carbon dioxide and water, provided by Siemens, that feed carbon monoxide and hydrogen to a bioreactor where they are fermented by microorganisms into chemicals.
The project has previously had success in producing first C2 compounds including ethanol and acetic acid, and then longer hydrocarbons including butanol and hexanol.
The aim of the project is to produce a platform technology that can use carbon dioxide and renewable power to feedstocks for specialty chemicals, plastics and food supplements.
The partners said the immediate priority of the project is to use the coming weeks to optimise the composition of the synthesis gas and the interaction between the electrolysis and fermentation operations. And the unit for processing the liquid from the bioreactor will be set up to obtain the pure chemicals.
The pilot plant is the latest stage in the Rheticus research project that was launched in 2018 and has been backed with more than €6m (US$7m) of funding from the German government. The latest phase runs until 2021.
Harald Schwager, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Evonik, said: “Climate protection is not possible without chemistry, because our industry supplies and develops solutions for the energy turnaround. Research projects such as Rheticus are a motivation and innovation driver for a sustainable society”.
Jurgen Heller, Programme Manager at Siemens Energy said looking ahead the technology could be expanded beyond chemicals production.
“The use of the technology is also of great interest in the production of synthetic fuels. Flexible use of CO electrolysis is possible at any time thanks to the modular system design.”
By Adam Duckett
INEOS Inovyn announces a new Ultra Low Carbon range (ULC) of Chlor-Alkali products that reduce the carbon footprint of caustic soda, caustic potash and chlorine by up to 70% compared to industry averages. The new range uses renewable energy sources to power INEOS Inovyn manufacturing sites.
Solvay operates seven soda ash plants worldwide. Beyond Green River, coal is being phased out at two of the company’s plants in France and Germany. By the end of 2024, the Rheinberg, Germany site will become the first soda ash plant in the world to be powered primarily with renewable energy.
The Chemours Company has named Pamela Fletcher to its board of directors, effective March 1. Fletcher, formerly the chief sustainability officer at Delta Air Lines Inc., takes the seat of Sandra Phillips Rogers, who has opted not to stand for reelection to the company’s board.