Carbon Utilization

Material use of compressed carbon dioxide

Carbon is a fundamental building block in many products such as synthetic polymers and basic chemicals like methanol and ethanol. Currently, the production of carbon-containing materials mainly uses finite fossil raw materials in energy-intensive processes. The extraction of these raw materials, such as crude oil, is often associated with negative consequences for the environment. In addition, the energy-intensive processes contribute significantly to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Fraunhofer UMSICHT is therefore developing processes for the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) as a potential further carbon source into high-quality products. Our focus in process development is on the use of compressed CO2 with the goal of closing carbon cycles and minimizing the use of fossil raw materials.

High-pressure electrochemical synthesis with high energy-saving potential

High-pressure electrochemical synthesis involves testing a single-step process that uses renewable energy, CO2 and water to produce acids and basic chemicals. Compared to currently established two-stage processes, which enable the material use of CO2 in combination with hydrogen produced from renewable sources to form alcohols, the one-step process contains enormous energy-saving potential. Furthermore, we are developing a process to deposit carbon from compressed CO2 on surfaces.

Cementless building materials and calcium carbonate

Another approach addresses the mineralization of steel mill slags (SWS). Fraunhofer UMSICHT is working on the production of cement-free building materials using compressed carbon dioxide. The greenhouse gas is permanently bound in the building materials and does not enter the atmosphere. The greenhouse gas intensive use of fossil calcium carbonate for the production of building materials is avoided, and the SWS are converted into high-quality products.

Furthermore, we develop processes for the precipitation of calcium carbonate from SWS as a raw material for industry.

CO2 -based polymers

Synthetic polymers such as polyurethane (PU) are currently produced from finite fossil sources. The synthesis of monomers from CO2 enables the substitution of conventional fossil raw material sources. As a contribution to the Carbon Dioxide Management and thus to the Green Deal of the European Union, this results in an innovative possibility to use CO2 as a raw material for sustainable materials.

Unique: Scale-up from laboratory to technical scale

The technical equipment we offer you in the field of carbon dioxide as a process medium is unique. It ranges from the small plant with a volume of 63 ml to the PLC-controlled plant on a technical scale with a volume of 1700l.  A scale-up of the developed processes is part of our service spectrum and is possible at our site..

Your way to cooperation with us

The cooperation takes place in the scientific area on the basis of publicly funded research projects as well as in the context of industrial research in direct order for you. We will be happy to advise you on this. Contact persons are Michael Prokein and Nils Mölders.

Reference projects



Energy-efficient electrosynthesis of alcohols

Power-to-x processes are needed to use CO2 as a sustainable raw material. ElkaSyn therefore focuses on a one-step process in which carbon dioxide and water are converted to methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol. 



Utilization of carbon dioxide in slags

Slags from steel production are to be processed for further use with the aid of CO2. The aim is to use the slags to produce higher-value products for the construction, plastics and paper industries.