Catalyst and process development, CO2 and energy conversion
Due to geographically distributed availability of fluctuating regenerative energy and CO2, the development of small-scale, decentralized processes is of particular interest. The build-up of small-scale chemical plants is, however, frequently limited by economical boundary conditions.
The Fraunhofer IGBs Straubing branch “Bio, Electro, and Chemocatalysis BioCat” develops catalysts and processes for the conversion of electric energy and CO2 in liquid energy carriers. Thereby, Fraunhofer IGB BioCat uses and combines the whole spectrum of catalysis (heterogeneous, homogeneous, bio-, and electrocatalysis).
A prominent, first-of-its-class example is a process which combines the CO2-based methanol synthesis with the methanol fermentation to isoprene, lactic acid, poly-hydroxy butyric acid and longer chain hydrocarbons (DE102016203889, WO2017153396). This process enables the cost-efficient further conversion of methanol to products with much higher market price compared to methanol. Therefore, this process has the potential to turn small-scale CO2 valorization into a profitable business.
In the frame of the EU project CELBICON, BioCat aims the combination of electrochemical synthesis of liquid C1-intermediates followed by C1-Fermentation to terpenes. The national project "eleMeMe" set the goal to use the methanol/CO2 system for decoupling the energy generation from consumption. In the EU project CO2EXIDE BioCat also develops processes for the synthesis of CO2-based bulk chemicals, addressing the ethylene, ethylene-oxide, and glycole value chain.