First is Bayer which just started its pilot plant in Chempark Leverkusen, Germany, producing polyurethanes using carbon dioxide as feedstock. As I've mentioned before, there are other companies that are looking into CO2-based polymers such as Novomer, which is currently working with DSM on CO2-based polycarbonate resins.
The blog first mentioned Bayer's CO-based PU project last year. The company's pilot plant produces kilogram-scale polyether polycarbonate polyols (PPPs) that will be processed into polyurethanes and will involve the chemical bonding of CO2. The key technology for the process is catalysis.
Bayer is working on the project with the energy company RWE, which supplies the CO2 used in the process. According to the company, an industrial production of CO2-based plastics could start in 2015 if everything goes will with the pilot production.
Bayer MaterialScience is currently testing the materials, which are used primarily to produce soft and rigid foams, at one of its existing plants.
In another news, BASF said this week that the company and its partners JGC Corporation and INPEX Corporation both based in Japan have successfully completed a test of removing carbon dioxide from natural gas under high pressure. The new gas treatment technology enables a reduction of 25-35% in the cost of CO2 recovery and compression.
The "High Pressure Acid gas Capture Technology" (HiPACT) was developed by JGC and BASF. The technology was tested at INPEX' natural gast plant in Koshijihara.
BASF has been working in other CO2 projects such as its partnership with RTI International (research group based in North Carolina,USA) and industrial gas company Linde Group. BASF and RTI have been working to develop a new, cost-effective CO2 carbon capture technology while BASF's partnership with Linde aims to market licenses and plants for the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from flue gases in the future.
Another interesting news that came into my attention this January via email is a development by US engineering company GEA Niro on converting CO2 into fuel alcohol and proteins for animal feed and fertilizer.
GEA Niro said their process converts CO2 by feeding it to algae and transforming the algae to alcohol by fermentation and the residual bio matter to fertiliser. The exhausted yeast cells are then spray dried into protein powder for animal feed.
The company said the payback period for this type of installation is not yet determined and would largely depend on tax rates and other government penalties impose on CO2 emissions.
"The payback time on a process like this depends largely on how much the plant is paying in emissions taxes and to a lesser extent on the sales price of the produced fertilizer, alcohol and protein for animal feed. Ultimately though, reducing the cost for the plant will reduce the cost for the client and therefore the product's consumer," said Robert Djernaes, Food Sales Group Manager of GEA Niro.
The process is, as yet, experimental. Currently there are extended tests running in Spain for growing algaes in connection with a cement plant.
Other companies working on converting CO2 into useful products include Alcoa, Touchstone Research Laboratory, Phycal, LLC, Skyonic Corporation, Calera Corporation. These companies as well as Novomer have been awarded a total of $106 million grants by the US Department of Energy (DOE).