The German R&D Program for CO2 Utilization – innovations for a green economy
Three major challenges for the German society are of high priority today: to impede the climate change, to prevent a shortage of resources, and to transform Germany’s energy system (Energiewende). The reduction of CO2 emissions and the utilization of CO2 are key components towards a sustainable future and a green economy.
Hence, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports research in this area with the funding programme „Technologies for Sustainability and Climate Protection – Chemical Processes and Use of CO2“ as part of the BMBF’s general research programme “Research for Sustainable Development (FONA)”. From 2010 to 2016 a total of 33 collaboration projects between academia and industry are supported with a total funding volume of 100 Mio. €. The high relevance of this research area is reflected in the contribution of the German Chemical industry of a further 50 Mio. €. Based on the existing excellent academic research in Germany, 18 research projects focussing on CO2 utilization have been initiated. While the majority of these projects target basic products of the chemical industry, incl. polymers and fine chemicals, six projects aim at energy storage by conversion of CO2 and green hydrogen (H2) to synthetic natural gas (SNG) or fuels.
The research projects investigating the production of high quality polymers from CO2 are highly successful: Bayer opened a pilot plant for the production of CO2-based polyols in 2011 and is currently building a production plant. But also projects concerned with the transformation of CO2 into energy carriers, e.g. fuels, are closing the gap to the market: In November, the worldwide first Power to Liquids pilot plant, based on a high temperature steam electrolysis and the Fischer-Tropsch technology, will be opened by the German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Johanna Wanka, at the Sunfire site in Dresden.
The contribution to a green economy and the future of funding of research in the area of CO2 utilization will also be discussed with respect to the new BMBF framework programme – FONA3.