Plastics production from captured CO2, is that possible?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) - produced from burning fossil fuels for energy generation - is one of the main gases behind the greenhouse effect, with strong contribution to climate change and global warming, currently one of the major global challenges.

Can you imagine this same CO2 captured and converted into ethylene production, one of the main raw materials in thermoplastic resin production? This is the path that Braskem is beginning to tread, in a partnership with the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), United States. In December 2020, Braskem and UIC launched a project to investigate in detail the technological route, drawing on existing mechanisms in nature.

"We are always looking for driving transformation through chemicals and plastics. Our commitment is to become a carbon neutral company by 2050. Projects like this are essential so we make progress in this scenario, besides having a transforming potential for the industry," adds Gus Hutras, in charge of the Process Technology area at Braskem.

The purpose of the study is to create a way of capturing and converting CO2 emissions from industrial operations at Braskem, transforming them into raw material for polymer production.

Professor Meenesh Singh, in charge of the project at UIC, explains the proposition is to set up a fully integrated, sustainable system with low energy consumption. "In order to develop a system with the required performance, our group at UIC will count on the experience demonstrated on electrochemical CO2 reduction reactions combining it with the technology being patented for actively capturing CO2 from exhaust gases".