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Press Releases • October 23, 2023

Braskem announces partnership with Northwestern University for the development of CO2 conversion technology

The project is led by Professor Ted Sargent and Dr. Ke Xie, among the world's preeminent scientists in the field of electrocatalysis and contributes to Braskem's strategy of combating climate change.

Braskem and Northwestern University (USA) have announced a partnership to develop a technology platform for converting the CO2 generated by industrial operations. It is based on co-electrolysis, a technology that makes full use of electricity to convert CO2 into products of interest.

In typical electrochemical devices, apart from CO2 conversion, water is converted into oxygen, which has no high commercial value. However, in this new strategy, two reactions of interest occur at the same time, resulting in greater productivity of the system, which creates intermediate chemicals and/or final products for commercial interest applications.

The project is led by Professor Ted Sargent and Dr. Ke Xie at Northwestern University, global experts in the field of electrocatalysis for CO2 conversion. The project, currently in the development stage, aims to build a versatile and modular system with high energy efficiency. In addition to efficiency gains, this approach enables the transformation of a higher volume of CO2, substantially contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases. The laboratory-scale development stage, which began one year ago, is expected to advance considerably in the three years of the cooperation agreement, with the potential for scaling up and use in industrial applications after the technology is validated.
For Braskem, the investment in this partnership should help it to achieve its sustainable development targets, especially regarding reaching carbon neutrality and combating climate change. The company plans 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 partnership with Northwestern University, using the cutting-edge infrastructure of its laboratories and Prof. Sargent's and Prof. Xie's expertise, we will undoubtedly deploy an innovative technology - CO2 conversion through co-electrolysis. Therefore, we will efficiently reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and open up new conversion possibilities through this pioneering and disruptive initiative," explained Gus Hutras, Global Process Technology Director, Braskem.

According to Northwestern's Dr. Ke Xie, a Research Assistant Professor leading the effort, "This partnership with Braskem is very exciting: it allows the team to explore new and adoption-accelerating concepts for the electrification of chemicals production." Sargent added, "Brilliant post-doctoral fellows and PhD students, attracted from other leading universities globally, are as a result poised to make key contributions to decarbonizing chemicals and materials thanks to Braskem's investment in the partnership." Sargent is the Lynn Hopton Davis and Greg Davis Professor in the Department of Chemistry and in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northwestern.

About Northwestern

Northwestern University is a globally leading research-intensive university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois. At Northwestern, the Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy has a multi-decade record of innovation, including of leading federal energy research hubs, an undergraduate certificate and professional MS in energy and sustainability, and a global portfolio of partnerships with leading corporate, non-profit and NGO institutions. Today the institute is investing in cutting-edge research in new and emerging areas of sustainability and energy, financial aid and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, and resources for commercializing the most promising technologies and projects emerging from the University.

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