Newsletter - May 2020

Dear Follower,

The current situation changed our social life and our work life. We at Carbon4PUR are adapting accordingly and keep on working as much as possible from our home offices. With this newsletter we want to keep you informed about our past, current and future activities.

Therefore, enjoy reading and stay healthy!

The Topics

Project presentation and current achievements

The industrially driven, multidisciplinary consortium of Carbon4PUR focusses on the development and demonstration of a new flexible technology for the production of value-added chemicals, polyester polyols, of carbon derived from steel mill waste gas.

A key aspect of Carbon4PUR is the concept of industrial symbiosis, combining the steel and the chemical sector to produce valuable polyurethane intermediates (polyols) from waste gases containing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. A particularly exciting aspect is that these waste gases shall be processed directly instead of having to be separated first. Finally, the polyols are used to prepare polyurethane rigid foams and coatings.

The first test quantities of polyol precursors have now been successfully manufactured at the CAT Catalytic Center of RWTH Aachen University on the basis of model gases. Covestro has managed to convert the precursors into polyols and to scale the process to the point of being able to test initial rigid foam and coating applications at project partners. The results are now being taken into the next phase.

Carbon4PUR elected as Project of the Month

Our project Carbon4PUR has been elected as the Project of the Month of February 2020 by the editorial board of research*eu, CORDIS’ magazine highlighting results from the projects funded by the EU's framework programmes for research and innovation.

We are very grateful to CORDIS for giving us this opportunity. You can read the article here or, first, familiarize with the story behind it. Here it is:

In November 2019 a team of 3 leading scientists from Covestro and RWTH Aachen has been nominated for the German President’s Award and entered the contest with the platform technology "CO2 – A Raw Material for Sustainable Plastics". This nomination has been perceived by the European Commission and CORDIS, who both addressed Carbon4PUR relating to the German President’s Award.

And indeed, our Carbon4PUR project is an important cobble stone on Covestro’s path towards the use of CO/CO2 for realizing the vision of responsible polymer production. It enables a broader industrial symbiosis for circular CO2 usage and develops routes towards polyurethane rigid foams and polyurethane dispersions, which are currently not tangible from CO/CO2 as feedstock. Meanwhile, in another connected project, scientists from RWTH Aachen develop synthetic polymer fibres based on CO2 (Video), whereas the production of soft foams for, e.g., mattresses is already demonstrated (Video).

This increasing visibility, finally, led to the election of Carbon4PUR as the Project of the Month. And this is where the story ends for now.

But be assured, that we are about to start the next project with CORDIS. So the story will go on.

The "Sustainable Plastics Symposium" – Our 3rd Stakeholder Event

Our Sustainable Plastics Symposium has been postponed. This was a heart-breaking decision as we had everything tied up and a lot of you have had already registered. And here is where we want to thank you for that.

Likewise it was a necessary and rationally-driven decision, because we wanted you to meet, discuss and network. This is also the reason, why we have planned round table and panel discussions as well as a small exhibition during the whole day. We don’t believe that this could be transferred to a virtual meeting without restrictions. It’s just not the same.

Given the uncertainties of these times, we aim for a cost-neutral prolongation of the Carbon4PUR project, which would allow us to shift our symposium to 2021. Currently, we are assessing a lot of different possibilities and will use the time to make everything even more inviting. We will keep you informed!

Acceptance and perception studies included in Carbon4PUR

Public perception and acceptance are essential for the long-term market success of the products developed by Carbon4PUR. Therefore, during our Consortium Meeting in September 2019, the project partners have unanimously decided to include a study entitled “Perception, acceptance and communication concepts for a CO/CO2-derived product in Carbon4PUR” to our Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation Work Package.

To this end, the Chair of Communication Science & Human-Computer Interaction Center at the RWTH Aachen University will strengthen the consortium as a new partner. Prof. Martina Ziefle (Head of the Research Group) and Dr. Katrin Arning (Senior Scientist) are both highly experienced in the implementation of research in the scientific field of technology acceptance and communication.

Thus, this task will contribute another puzzle piece to the full picture of Carbon4PUR.

In a first step, interviews have been conducted with experts from science and research, industry and sales and potential users of insulation boards. These interviews form the basis for a larger study to measure the acceptance of CO-based insulation boards and to identify adopter profiles with specific acceptance and communication requirements. This second round is just about to being set up right now.

Are you interested in the results? Here is a sneak preview: Consumers and laypeople are concerned about the end-of-life management of plastics but are likewise very open-minded and excited after learning more about the concept and benefits of CCU and circularity.

A lot more results will be published in an article entitled "What drives public acceptance of sustainable CO2-derived building materials? - A conjoint analysis of perceived environmental benefits and health risk concerns", which has been already submitted.

Mapping of CO/CO2 emitters, steel mills and polyol plants in Europe - Try it!

Our Carbon4PUR industrial symbiosis and replication study has just been finished. It comprised two steps. In a first step we have compiled the location of all known CO/CO2 emitters and steel mills as well as a non-exhaustive number of chemical parks and polyol plants in Europe. All these have been visualized in an interactive mapping tool, allowing you to easily filter data depending on individual preferences.

The basic methodology and the aim have been reported in our public deliverable "D7.1 – Mapping of CO2/CO (CO/CO2) mixed and pure sources in Europe". In a second iteration, we have further added the ethylene and propylene pipeline into the mapping tool and checked the chemical parks regarding the availability of ethylene and propylene, and more important, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide. The latter are imperative requirements for the preparation of our Carbon4PUR intermediates. You can test the mapping tool at any time.

In the second step we have selected feasible locations for potential Carbon4PUR production plants based on this interactive map and have assessed the local and regional characteristics to identify the real sweet spots throughout Europe. Results have been reported end of March 2020 as public deliverable "D7.2 – Study including replication potentials and preferred sites for industrial symbiosis".

Upcoming Events and Activities

GHGT-15 - 15th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, 15.-18.03.2021, Abu Dhabi (UAE)

Dr. Katrin Arning will present results of the acceptance study prepared within Carbon4PUR in a poster entitled “Carbon to plastic – but is it worth it? Investigating product preferences and acceptance barriers of Carbon Capture and Utilization” at the GHGT-15 conference organized by the IEA in March 2021. Further, a full paper will be published either in the conference proceedings or in a Special Issue of the International Journal of Greenhous Gas Control (IJGGC).

The GHGT-15 conference was initially plannned for October 2020 and has been now postponed to March 2021. We are looking forward to the conference!

Flashback - Own Events

In the last 12 month the Carbon4PUR partners have organized 3 own events and attended 18 external conferences, workshops, fairs and shows. Find them all in the “News & Events” section of our website. Here is a summary of the events organized by us.

Open Doors Event at Recticel, 27.02.2020, Wetteren (Belgium)

Recticel has opened its doors in February 2020 and invited 24 Master Students and 4 Teaching Assistants of University of Gent in the frame of the ‘Polymer Material’ course to visit the production site in Wetteren and learn about the chemistry and the applications of polyurethanes. Besides this general introduction, a special focus was put on sustainable developments, of which the Carbon4PUR project was a speaking example.

PNO Consultants European Energy Days, 26.09.2019, Brussels (Belgium)

The European Energy Days have gathered six successful Horizon2020 energy projects for a day of knowledge-sharing of energy research and innovation and exploitation of project results into new innovation and research action.

2nd Carbon4PUR Stakeholder Event at the Port of Marseille Fos, 20.03.2019, Fos sur Mer (France)

Our 2nd Stakeholder Event has been hosted at our project partner the port authority in Fos sur Mer. It was focused on regional stakeholders, with presentations from sister projects and promoted the interaction and symbioses between the stakeholders. With 3 sessions and a boat visit of the potential site for the implementation of Carbon4PUR, the 80 participants have gained some exclusive insights into our work and our vision of sustainability based on industrial symbiosis.

You can view the program, the presentations and pictures of the event on our website post on the 2nd Carbon4PUR Stakeholder Event. With this opportunity, TV Maritima has broadcasted a short video report about Carbon4PUR, which you can find here on youtube.

Flashback - Activities 

18 deliverables in the last 12 months

The project partners have successfully prepared and submitted 18 deliverables during the last 12 month. The two public deliverables are related to the industrial symbiosis and replication study conducted in within Carbon4PUR. These two deliverables are presented above in more detail (Mapping of CO/CO2 emitters, steel mills and polyol plants in Europe). Have a look at all our public deliverables in the "Deliverables" section of our website.

4 scientific articles submitted and more to come

The scientific partners of the Carbon4PUR consortium have prepared and submitted 4 scientific publications, which are now under peer review. As soon as these papers will be accepted, you will find the bibliographic data in the “Dissemination” section of our website.

But this is not the end. We have another 4 articles in preparation right now and two more are planned on the longer term. And there is something good in the current situation: We can now write, plan the further steps, perform literature and patent analyses and revise the achieved results!

Interview with EngineeringNet

Prof. Mark Saeys from the University of Gent has been invited to an interview by EngineeringNet, a flemish engineering magazine with an edition of about 10.000 copies. Therein, he talks about CCU, CCS and DAC and highlights the concept of geo-engineering in view of CO2 emissions. Read the article in the "Press and Media Coverage" section of our website.

Collaboration in Education

The group of Prof. Mark Saeys from the University of Gent had a high school student visiting their laboratory in in March 2020. Ghazal, originary coming from Afghanistan, now attends the Stedelijk Lyceum Waterbaan in Antwerp. Her final project is focused on Carbon Capture and in this context she was highly interested to learn what is happening in Carbon4PUR from an insider point of view. We supported her with hands-on laboratory experience, generation of experimental data and with guidance on other materials for CO2 capture. Thank you, Ghazal, for the great time and the good collaboration!

Interview Request from Students on Circular Economy

Students from the Phillips-Universität Marburg have asked our coordinator Dr. Liv Adler to give an interview presenting Carbon4PUR in the context of Circular Economy in Germany and Europe. Of course, we have happily accepted the inquiry and scheduled a call. We are happy to receive so much interest and gladly support the students' project work.

From waste gas to valuable raw material – COVESTRO Magazine "Beyond Materials"

With the occasion of the Annual Report 2019, COVESTRO has also published the new issue of its magazine "Beyond Materials". In section 3 of this magazine the Carbon4PUR project and its progress is briefly highlighted:

“Using industrial waste gases as a future source of raw materials with a view to expanding the resource base and closing the carbon cycle is an important step in the right direction,” says Dr. Liv Adler, Covestro’s Carbon4PUR coordinator.

Read the full magazine and the annual report 2019 here.

We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter!

Best wishes and stay healthy!
Your Carbon4PUR team


PS: You can find all news and updates about Carbon4PUR on our website, on twitter and on linkedin. So don't forget to follow, like and share.

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