Carbon2Chem® – A Key Building Block for the Climate Protection

The joint project is dedicated to the carbon cycle.

Aim | Milestones | Facts and figuresCarbon2Chem® subprojects | Video: CO2 reduction in the steel and chemical industry

We need to recycle carbon – a short sentence that nevertheless clearly describes the Carbon2Chem® project. An improvement in climate protection requires not only a reduction in CO2 emissions but also a reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Extensive efforts by industry are constantly reducing its energy requirements and the emission of climate-damaging gases. However, in some cases, thermodynamic and economic limits have been reached within the processes. As a rule, new innovative processes are not yet available for large-scale use.

At this point, cross-industry networks offer the energy- and emission-intensive industrial sectors the opportunity to make a sustainable contribution. The joint Carbon2Chem® project aims to use gases from the steelmaking process as a valuable raw material source for the chemical industry. The project is coordinated jointly by Fraunhofer UMSICHT, thyssenkrupp AG, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (MPI-CEC). The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)..


Using renewable energies, unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry are to replace fossil raw materials in the chemical industry. To this end, a cross-industrial production network will be set up comprising the steel industry, the chemical industry and the energy industry. Process gases from smelting used to date for energy production serve as raw materials for the production of synthetic fuels, plastics and other basic chemicals. The modular approach to CO2 use within cross-industry networks enables the combination of climate protection and competitiveness for large industrial sites in Germany and other parts of the world.

During the first project term for Carbon2Chem® (June 2016 to May 2020), the focus lay on developing and researching suitable processes. This centered on technical feasibility and evidence of cost-effectiveness and sustainability. The second phase of Carbon2Chem® will validate the developed processes for large-scale implementation and thus lay the foundations for low-emission steel production. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has made a further 75 million euros available for this by 2024. The partners involved are planning investments of more than 100 million euros by 2025.

The joint project also takes on the challenge of considering the economic dimension of a transformation of this kind, such as how jobs can be secured while also contributing towards climate neutrality, even in other CO2-intensive industries such as cement and lime works and waste incineration plants.


With the milestones achieved in the individual lighthouse projects during the first phase of Carbon2Chem® (June 2016 to May 2020), the foundations and prerequisites for the second phase, which runs from June 2020 to May 2024, were created. This included the provision of a dedicated laboratory building for the project with 500 m2 of laboratory space and 30 office workstations on the Fraunhofer UMSICHT campus. This is where processes are developed for gas purification using defined gases as well as to produce methanol and higher alcohols, which then undergo further tests in the specially built pilot plant station with real gases. The pilot plant station offers 3700 m2 of space and is directly next to the thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG premises in Duisburg.

During the second project phase, the focus lies on long-term tests both in the laboratory and in the pilot plant station. The technical processes should be further validated and upscaled for industrialization from 2025.

The subproject L-III “Synthesis Gas” will also intensively look into the composition, purification, and treatment of steel mill gases at the thyssenkrupp site in Duisburg during the second phase. This is the starting point for subprojects L-II, L-III, L-IV, and L-V, which are concerned with the different product paths, methanol, urea, higher alcohols, and polymers. Subproject L-I “CO2 Sources and Infrastructure” is a new addition. It looks into the transfer of Carbon2Chem® technology to various industrial CO2 point sources, such as power stations, waste incineration plants, and cement works. There is also a focus on how a suitable infrastructure for hydrogen and carbon dioxide might look for major carbon capture and utilization (CCU) solutions.

The individual elements are ultimately brought together in an optimized, coherent plant network by the overarching subproject L-0 “System-Integration”. For this system integration, simulation calculations are performed and investigations conducted into cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

The subproject L-KK “Coordination and Communication”, which supports the coordination of the overall project and communication both within the consortium and externally, is a further new addition. thyssenkrupp AG, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, and Fraunhofer UMSICHT are responsible for the overall coordination of the joint project. Subproject L-KK is additionally intended to develop suggestions for the regulatory framework for a climate-neutral industry by 2050.

Facts and figures

Image brochure

CO2 reduction through cross-industry cooperation between the steel, chemical and energy industries – a look at the first funding phase of Carbon2Chem®.

Project structure

Fundamental research, applied research, and industry come together in Carbon2Chem®. A look at the structure of this collaboration.

Facts and figures

From the launch of the project to the present day: important key figures relating to Carbon2Chem®.


What are steel mill gases? What are the benefits of a cross-industrial approach? And what role do renewable energies play in Carbon2Chem®? A brief explanation of important terms in the context of the joint project.


CIT issue

Chemie Ingenieur Technik – CIT
Carbon2Chem® Part 2 (October 2020)
Volume 92, Issue 10

Laboratory and pilot plant station

How can gases from the steelmaking process be used as a valuable raw material source for the chemical industry? Answers are given in various locations.


Whether highlights or challenges – project coordinators and partners offer insights into the research work in interviews.


Information from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research on the status of the joint project Carbon2Chem®.

Electronic press kit

Our electronic press kit offers you consolidated information on the Carbon2Chem® joint project and on our conferences. 

Carbon2Chem® subproject

Second project phase | 1.6.2020 to 31.5.2024


Subproject L-KK

Coordination and Communication

The project’s own central office takes care of coordination and internal and external communication for the entire network. Solutions for achieving a climate-neutral industry by 2050, particularly with regard to the regulatory framework conditions, are additionally being developed.


Subproject L-0


The work focuses on bringing together the activities from the other subprojects. The available process concepts are developed and optimized according to process-related, energetic, and sustainable perspectives from the viewpoint of the overall system.


Subproject L-I

CO2 Sources and Infrastructure

Solutions that have already been developed should be transferred to other CO2-intensive industries such as the cement and lime industries as well as thermal waste treatment. Evidence should be provided here that the Carbon2Chem® technology modules are able to minimize cross-industrial CO2 emissions.


Subproject L-II

Dynamic Methanol Production from Steel Mill Gases

The aim is to specifically elaborate the process concepts developed in the first project term with regard to producing methanol from the byproduct gases from steel mills. The scale-up of the laboratory to the pilot plant in the pilot plant station is a particular focal point.


Subproject L-III

Synthesis Gas

The aim is to demonstrate the robustness of the previously developed concepts to purify steel mill gases, to synthesize various chemicals and, in particular, for system integration. An industrial implementation should be feasible with the completion of the second project term.


Subproject L-IV

Higher Alcohols

The focus lies on developing an overall catalytic process to directly convert treated byproduct gas into short-chain alcohols, olefins, and synthetic fuels. This process should then progress to the demonstration stage.


Subproject L-V


The research and development of new (partial) processes to produce polycarbonates lie at the heart of the subproject. The use of byproduct gases as a material gives the chemical plastics industry access to an alternative raw material basis, thus reducing the use of fossil raw materials such as crude oil.

Subproject L-VI

Synthetic Fuels

Video: CO2 reduction in the steel and chemical industry

The goals of Carbon2Chem® briefly explained.

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Using renewable energies, the Carbon2Chem® joint project aims to replace fossil raw materials with unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions from the steel industry. CO2 will thus become a raw material for the chemical industry.

1st Project phase – 2016 to 2020

Archive | 15.3.2016 – 31.5.2020

Competencies of Fraunhofer UMSICHT