Global use of plastics is expected to increase from the current 350 million to more than 1 billion tonnes by 2050. However, the production of plastics releases CO2.
TNO therefore works closely with the chemical industry and the government on recycling and biobased plastics, as well as on the electrification of production processes. VoltaChem, established in 2014 as a 100% subsidiary of TNO, focuses entirely on electrification in the chemical industry.
Chemical building blocks
Using electrochemical technology, possibly combined with traditional processes, it is possible to convert CO2 directly into sustainable chemical building blocks. And that may even eventually work with CO2 taken from the air, making manufacturing of plastics even more sustainable at the bottom line.
"Because making plastics that do not release CO2, but instead require CO2: that is exactly what the world needs to close the carbon chain in a future carbon-neutral and circular economy," says Martijn de Graaff, cluster manager for industrial transformation at TNO and programme director at VoltaChem.
Getting ready for market
DTNO wants to ensure that the innovative technology to produce plastics from CO2 is made market-ready as soon as possible. "Between 2040 and 2050 it needs to be fully operational on a global scale, and that means we need to accelerate," says De Graaff. A first step is therefore to commission the first demonstration plant by 2030.
"Normally, such a process takes twice as much time, but thanks to our close cooperation with the companies within VoltaChem and with university partners such as TU Delft and Maastricht University, this is becoming an accelerated reality," De Graaff said. He hopes the demonstration plant will motivate companies to invest in applying technologies to make plastics from waste gases, water and air using green energy. "In the demonstration plant, we can put theory into practice and thus prove that it is profitable to invest in this kind of technology.
Read here the entire article, which previously appeared on the TNO website.