29. Aug 2023

From CO2 to polyolefins

Braskem (São Paulo, Brazil) and the University of São Paulo (USP) have announced a partnership to develop lines of research for converting CO2 into other chemical products.

The project's mission is to deploy the technologies resulting from these lines of research to reuse CO2 to obtain chemical products such as olefins and alcohols, thus mitigating its emissions into the environment and using it as a raw material for the production of polyolefins.

The partnership with USP, through the Research Center for Greenhouse Gas Innovation (RCGI), which also includes the participation of the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), focuses on studying innovative routes for CO2 conversion through both catalytic and electrocatalytic processes. While in conventional processes in the chemical industry, catalysts (materials that trigger chemical reactions) are thermally activated, electrocatalysis uses electricity to activate them. As such, renewable energy can be used partially or fully for CO2 conversion.

The project, which started one year ago, considers a total period of five years for developments on a laboratory scale, with the possibility of extension based on the progress of research.

Braskem will contribute with investments and its expertise in industrial processes, and will also monitor and guide the studies. The research groups from USP and UFSCar will coordinate and conduct the studies using state-of-the-art infrastructure at the laboratories and with assistance from multidisciplinary teams consisting of chemists, physicists, and engineers, among others, with various levels of academic qualifications.

For Braskem, the partnership will also help it achieve its sustainable development targets, especially concerning reaching carbon neutrality. The company expects to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030 and attain carbon neutrality by 2050.

"In recent years, Braskem has signed several partnerships to study the possibilities and alternatives for using the CO2 generated by its operations. Through this new project, the company expands its collaboration with academia and helps foster domestic research in partnership with major educational institutions across Brazil", said Gus Hutras, head of the global Process Technology team at Braskem. "We expect the initiative to bring benefits for the industry in terms of CO2 conversion and that we can learn and contribute by mobilizing our expertise to scale up sustainable solutions for Brazil and the world", he added.

Once developed, the technologies for converting CO2 through catalysis and electrocatalysis will be novel, innovative, and disruptive in a market that is increasingly demanding projects that help combat climate change.

For Rita Maria de Brito Alves, professor at the Chemical Engineering Department of the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (USP) and researcher at RCGI-USP, "partnerships between universities and the private sector are fundamental for applied research, which contributes to the development of innovative products and processes, formation of skilled professionals and drives competitiveness. The common goal is the generation of knowledge and technologies for the sustainable development of society in general”. AT


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