25. May 2020
Beiersdorf and Evonik have reached an agreement on a research partnership. Its aim is to develop sustainable raw materials for care products, using carbon dioxide (CO2) as the starting material.
Beiersdorf is on the lookout for new sources of raw materials that will also reduce the company’s carbon footprint. One option here is artificial photosynthesis technology. The idea: with the aid of electricity from solar energy and bacteria, valuable raw materials are produced with water and CO2, drawing on natural photosynthesis as a model. The joint research project of Evonik and Beiersdorf is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the amount of around €1 million.
Dr. May Shana’a, Corporate Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Beiersdorf, says: “The research cooperation fits perfectly with our sustainability agenda, an ambitious program that we are implementing systematically and across all functions. We are pursuing a vision of becoming climate positive, and we want to play a part in closing the carbon cycle.” If Beiersdorf succeeds in using CO2 as a source for the raw materials used in its care products, this will reduce the company’s carbon footprint as well as the land used for renewable resources. “Together with Evonik, we are determining which raw materials can be produced with the aid of artificial photosynthesis and could potentially be suitable for our care products. While this has already been observed in the early stages of a number of other industries, this application is in its infancy in the cosmetics industry. We are therefore especially proud to be entering into this research partnership,” Shana’a continues.
Thomas Haas, who is responsible for artificial photosynthesis at Evonik, says: “By using carbon dioxide as the starting material for the production of valuable raw materials, we can close the carbon cycle – exactly as demonstrated by nature with photosynthesis.” Evonik is developing the technology platform needed for artificial photosynthesis together with Siemens in the Rheticus project funded by the BMBF. Evonik believes that the research cooperation just launched with the skin care specialist Beiersdorf, which is independent of the cooperation with Siemens, is an opportunity for the specialty chemicals maker to expand the future product portfolio for artificial photosynthesis. Haas says: “With Beiersdorf, we have a partner who is joining us in extending the value chain to include sustainable CO2-based products – in the interests of the consumer.”
With this research project, Beiersdorf and Evonik are partners in the BMBF’s P2X II project launched in September 2019 as one of the projects of Kopernikus, one of the biggest German research initiatives in the area of the energy transition. A total of 42 partners are involved in the P2X II project alone. The aim is to develop processes that use renewable energy to produce high-quality products.
Image: Bioreactors for laboratory scale experiments (courtesy Evonik)