Carbon emissions to become chemicals in new EU project

​Microorganisms that "eat" CO2 and turn it into useful chemicals and materials – a double gain, with carbon emission taken care of and less created in production. This is the scope of a new European project of almost half a billion SEK. Researchers from Chalmers will help to guide the developers to the most environmentally benign design.
​The new project PyroCO2 will demonstrate large-scale conversion of industrial carbon emissions into value-added chemicals and materials. The project, conducted by a consortium of 20 industrial and research partners from 11 countries, aims to demonstrate a new path to create value from industrial CO2 emissions – while improving the sustainability of the chemical industry in Europe.

The scope is to establish and demonstrate an innovative platform for carbon capture and utilization, CCU, that turns industrial CO2 into chemical building-blocks using a new biotechnological approach. These are then converted further catalytically into a wide range of products, including other value-added chemicals such as components for paints and plastic, synthetic fuels, as well as recyclable or biodegradable materials normally produced from fossil hydrocarbons.

"The project develops a biotechnological process in which industrial CO2 emissions, such as from cement production, is used to produce chemicals. Not only does it contribute to decreasing the emission of CO2. In doing so, it converts the CO2 into chemicals which would otherwise most likely be produced using fossil resources," explains Senior Researcher Matty Janssen at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg.

Chalmers’ role in the project is to guide the process developers to make design choices for a more environmentally benign design. It will do so by bringing expertise and experience of doing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to the project.

Henrikke Baumann och Matty Janssen"Our activities will run throughout the project. We are currently recruiting a PhD student that will work on the environmental assessment, using LCA, of the process that is being developed – and for which an actual pilot plant will be built in this project. In particular, the doctoral student will work on further development of methods for prospective future-oriented LCA and on development of positive environmental impacts. Furthermore, my own background as a bioprocess engineer may be useful for our work, and for communicating with the process developers in the project," says Matty Janssen, who will lead the project at Chalmers together with Professor Henrikke Baumann.

The overall aim of this 5-year project with a total budget of 44 million euros is to build and operate a facility capable of capturing 10,000 tonnes of industrial CO2 per year, an equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from 2,200 cars, and use it to produce chemicals. The European Commission funds the PyroCO2 project with 40 million euros in support of the European Green Deal, the plan to make the EU's economy sustainable and climate-neutral by 2050.

"We are excited to finally start our ambitious work that aims to be a gamechanger for European carbon-intensive industries. These will be able to create valuable products from their CO2 emissions, meeting the need for a lower carbon footprint while maintaining their competitiveness and being a part of the solution for the climate," says Senior Research Scientist Alexander Wentzel at SINTEF, the Norwegian research institute that coordinates the project.

The PyroCO2 factory will be located at the industrial cluster of Herøya Industrial Park in Porsgrunn, Norway, featuring several carbon-intensive industries. Here, the PyroCO2 process will benefit from close to 100% renewable electricity and complement ongoing large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) efforts in Norway. Once successfully demonstrated, replication and further upscaling is envisioned throughout Europe and beyond.

Text: Daniel Karlsson and via PyroCO2
Photo: Shutterstock and Daniel Karlsson

The project

  • PyroCO2 is a 5-years Innovation Action project in support of the European Green Deal
  • Aim: Design, build, and operate a production facility capable of demonstrating chemical production from close to 10,000 tonnes of industrial CO2 per year
  • Project period: 1. Oct. 2021 to 30. Sep. 2026
  • Budget: close to 44 million EUROS, of which 40 million euros funding from the European Commission. Chalmers receives 583,000 euros.
  • Partners: SINTEF (coordinator, NO), SecondCircle (DK), Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DK), Arkema France (FR), Le Centre National De la Recherce Scientifique (FR), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (DE), Ciaotech SRL (IT), Axelera (FR), Firmenich SA (CH), NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS (NO), Herøya Industripark (NO), Chalmers tekniska högskola (SE), Bioprocess Technology (ES), Norner Research (NO), SCG Chemicals (TH), Johnson-Matthey PLC (UK), Ranido S.R.O. (CZ), NextChem SPA (IT), Ecoinnovazione SRL (IT), Vestfold og Telemark Fylkeskommune (NO)

Page manager Published: Mon 22 Nov 2021.