Friday, 11 October 2013

CO2 is a Resource for the Future of Europe

The Second Conference on CO2 as Feedstock for Chemistry and Polymers took place in Essen, Germany on 7 – 9 October 2013. The conference discussed a new paradigm for industrial chemical production: the CO2 (carbon dioxide) economy with CO2 no longer seen as a waste product but increasingly as a renewable feedstock for chemicals, fuels or polymers. In the longer term new CO2 chemistry can enable artificial photosynthesis to produce chemical products from ambient CO2. This is an increasingly important area of interest for both SusChem and the SPIRE PPP.

Dr. Gernot Klotz, Executive Director for Research and Innovation at CEFIC (the European Chemical Industry Council) and Member of the SusChem Board, spoke in the opening panel of the conference, together with representatives of the National Energy Agency and of the German government, to describe the importance of CO2 as a potential renewable feedstock for the chemical industry in Europe.

Dr. Klotz stressed the need for a change in our mentality towards CO2: “Europe can no longer afford to look at CO2 as waste to be disposed of, for example by burying it underground, but we must recognize CO2 as a renewable source for the future.” CO2 as feedstock for chemistry can be used in many different ways, such as renewable energy storage and as an ingredient to make polymers and new materials.  The next step will be to make CO2 a key enabler for artificial photosynthesis via chemical processes.

Resource innovation
“Innovation is about change,” said Dr. Klotz. “If Europe wants to be competitive on the world scene it must urgently change its approach to innovation. Other regions of the world, such as the United States and Asia, are racing to develop a competitive economy based on renewable resources. CO2 is the only renewable resource Europe has in abundance, and can play a vital a role in ensuring Europe’s future as a competitive economy.”

“European countries must cooperate now to ensure that a broader vision for a CO2 economy in Europe is born and implemented. This would enable us to design and produce new, innovative technologies and products in the coming years and to immediately use its advantages by bringing together economy, goods, growth and social welfare.”

Dr. Klotz argued that this new approach requires all players in society to align to support the initiative. New European initiatives can create a space for a new mind-set for resources, efficiency and innovation in Europe, including new uses for CO2. For example, the Public Private Partnership for Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) aims to enable new technologies and best practices in important stages of existing, large-scale value chains that will contribute to a resource efficient process industry. CO2 could play a breakthrough role in this context.

Typically in the EU there are many efforts made to advance the innovative capacity of industry, but they are often fragmented. CEFIC has brought together all relevant stakeholders to jointly create a roadmap that will help Europe to achieve global leadership in innovation.

“If Europe aims to achieve global leadership in sustainable technologies together with jobs and growth the progress we make in the next 10 years will be of critical importance,” concluded Dr Klotz.

Dr. Klotz will also be speaking at a forthcoming conference on this topic at the end of October. The Carbon Dioxide Utilization Summit takes place from 30 to 31 October at the Hotel Marivaux Brussels and will feature the use of CO2 as a feedstock for fuels and chemicals.

More information
To get more information on the potential role of CO2 in the future of Europe’s economy, competitiveness and energy efficiency, please contact Dr Gernot Klotz, Executive Director for Research and Innovation at CEFIC, or Sophie Wilmet, Innovation Counsellor at CEFIC.

The SusChem Newsblog and Twitter feed (@suschem) uses the hashtag #useCO2 to highlight news and information on CO2 utilization technology and innovation that crosses our desk.


  1. Timo Juutilainen21 October 2013 at 07:49

    As we all know carbon dioxide is an important issue for the future. If any company try to help to solve this problem, what kind of economical help is available in EU? In US and Canada there is a 75%+ bonus from governement for these type of serious projects.

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