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Discovery of new catalyst enables plastic manufacturing with captured CO2; Bayer brings pilot plant online

Bayer has brought a pilot plant on stream at Chempark Leverkusen to trial the new process for the production of plastics using CO2 from the energy sector. The plant produces a chemical precursor into which CO2 is incorporated and then processed into polyurethanes that are used in many everyday items. As a result, CO2 can now be recycled and used as a raw material and substitute for petroleum.

The innovative process is the result of the “Dream Production” project; a collaboration between industry and science. Bayer is working on the project with the energy company RWE, which supplies the CO2 used in the process. Other project partners are RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalytic Center, which is run jointly by the university and Bayer. The researchers recently achieved a break-through in laboratory-scale catalysis technology which makes it possible to put CO2 to efficient use, for what they say is the first time.

The carbon dioxide used in the project comes from RWE Power’s lignite power plant in Niederaussem outside Cologne, Germany. At its Coal Innovation Center there, the company operates a CO2 scrubber where the carbon dioxide is separated from the flue gas. At the pilot plant—designed, built and run by Bayer Technology Services—kilograms of the carbon dioxide are used to produce one of the two components essential for the production of polyurethanes. Bayer MaterialScience is testing these materials, which are used primarily to produce soft and rigid foams, at one of its existing plants.

The efficient use of CO2 is only possible because a suitable catalyst, for which experts had been searching for four decades, has finally been discovered. This research breakthrough was made by scientists at Bayer and the CAT as part of the forerunner “Dream Reactions” project, which was also funded in part by the German federal government. During the current “Dream Production” initiative, researchers at the CAT are, among other things, testing the compatibility of the catalyst with CO2 from the power plant. RWTH Aachen University is subjecting all stages of the new process to comprehensive ecological and economic scrutiny, and is also comparing it with conventional processes and products.

The new process helps to boost sustainability in a number of different ways. For example, carbon dioxide may offer an alternative to petroleum, which has until now been the chemical sector’s main source of the key element carbon. Polyurethanes themselves also help to reduce energy consumption and protect the climate. When used to insulate buildings from cold and heat, they can save approximately 70 times more energy than is used in their production, Bayer says

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is, together with Bayer, supporting the CAT Catalytic Center. The “Dream Production” project is receiving federal funding amounting to approximately €5 million (US$6.8 million). Including the investment of Bayer and RWE the total budget amounts to some €9 million (US$12.3 million). If the testing phase goes well, the industrial production of plastics based on CO2 should start in 2015.

The debate on climate change has portrayed CO2 as the villain of the piece in the public eye. Now we are supporting research into alternative solutions that could make good use of CO2 as a raw material.

—Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Rachel from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research



"As a result, CO2 can now be recycled and used as a raw material and substitute for petroleum."

If the economics check out - WOW.


These things always require a reducing agent, typically hydrogen. The crucial detail is how that's made.

Henry Gibson

For more than a century, it has been possible for humans to make methanol out of CO2 and hydrogen. Organisms exist in nature that can make ethanol out of CO2 and hydrogen as well. Ordinary green plants take CO2 out of the air and water out of the ground and sunlight from the closest star and recycle CO2, but humans eliminate many such plants to grow crops for fuel.

If nuclear energy were used, natural plants could be allowed to grow where ever they are suited and take CO2 out of the air.

Nuclear power can be used directly to eliminate the use of coal, oil and natural gas for producing electricity. The heat can be used for more efficiency in refining and production of fossil fuels or even bio-fuels. There is no good reason why some ethanol production is not done on the site of a nuclear power plant with the saving of much fossil energy. Nuclear reactors that operate or operated in earlier submarines or ice breakers or far simpler ones could be built on the sight of an oil or ethanol refinery for heat.

The used fuel bundles from CANDU reactors could be thrown into a tank of liquid wax and provide enough nuclear heat for some production of bitumen from the tar sands.

The heat is now being wasted, and if the wax started to boil a tall chimney would give off the heat to condense it long before the wax vapor reached the air. This would be an indication to boil more steam with the liquid wax heat for bitumen extraction.

The plutonium in the fuel bundles is not bomb material and the bundles themselves are too radioactive to be moved by hand. They should be be required by treaty to be reprocessed to concentrate the fission products and to recycle the plutonium that people are unjustly forced to worry about by liars, politicians, and promoters. This plutonium is eliminated by mixing it with thorium and putting it back into the reactors. Every pound of it eventually produces the energy of three million pounds of coal so it is not waste. It also produces another pound of fuel uranium but not plutonium in the process out of the thorium.

The radiations from the sun, including light, are called solar energy and they are produced by nuclear reactions. The Sun is very inefficient and CARB should require that it be shut down and fusion reactors be built to use the hydrogen more efficiently and to stop producing carbon by just only producing helium.

Published values from the US government can be used to show that, although 100 units of fossil fuel are use to produce 120 units of ethanol, There would be more reduction of CO2 in the air if big trees were grown on the ground instead of corn and more fossil energy was used to make up the twenty units extra energy from ethanol.

Ethanol is far from being carbon neutral because in addition to its 120 units of carbon which came from the air, about 100 units of fossil carbon are being added. At the very best ethanol is only sixty percent carbon neutral as are most biofuels. The release of carbon and elimination of carbon in the soil when the forests are turned into biofuel farms maye never be recovered and are large as are the methane releases from many hydroelectric lakes due to natural run off as well as runoff from farms.

There is an enormous amount of magnesium in the ocean as well as a lesser amount of calcium. Carbon dioxide can be combined with this magnesium and calcium to make mountains and the earth has done a lot of this in the past, perhaps when there was much more CO2 in the air which there has been many times in billions of years. Perhaps someone will do the calculation of how much CO2 can be changed into calcium and magnesium carbonates before the ocean even becomes neutral long before it becomes acid.

CO2 escapes to the air before water containing it becomes very acid and this is what forms stalagtites and other formations when rainwater containing CO2 etches limestone from the ground and rock and deposits it in caverns when the CO2 escapes.

We are ruining the earth with farms why not ruin the ocean with CO2 pumped into the depths. There are lakes in Africa with ponds of CO2 on the bottom that escape and kill many people and animals, but they do not have magnesium and calcium to absorb it.

The magnesium and calcium carbonates provided can be used to build structures or even build highly safe tombs for the few hundred tons of nuclear fission products produced every year. Some of the fission products are not radioactive, and some become non radioactive quickly, but none of them remain radio active longer than the radioactive potassium in all humans and a few atoms of them in our body is actually no more dangerous than the many more atoms of radioactive potassium. Mixed with large amounts of ocean bottom mud they could cause no big problem compared to the millions dying of malaria. Spraying dilute solutions of them on unoccupied parts of Nevada near Yucca mountain would avoid all of the problems proposed by the people who oppose Yucca mountain storage and make the plutonium in them unavailable forever. It would be cheaper to spray them in the ocean, but far far safer than using cell phones whilst driving. The earth in Nevada is already naturally radio active enough that a Geiger counter could not tell the difference.

Don't use a cell phone in an automobile if you insist upon perfect safety for nuclear fission but not for automobiles. Far more people have been killed or buried in mud by "safe" "Clean" hydroelectric dams than by nuclear power plants, and many acres of farms and lakes turned into deserts for the occupants of Los Angeles.


HG. Our 8 in house Norfolk Pines are lovely and very healthy but getting too big. Should I send them to a cellulose fuel plant and start with new smaller one?

Fear of nuclear plants (all types) has been driven in as deep as our love for large gas guzzlers. The other acceptable clean alternatives may be Solar and Wind. Those technologies cost a lot more but are more acceptable to most of us.

Mass produced smaller transportable nuclear plants, buried deep under ground, could supply electricity, hydrogen and heating for northern cities at a much lower cost.

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