Innovation

Green Chemistry based on Carbon dioxide

The aim of the Rheticus research project is to produce valuable specialty chemicals from carbon dioxide and green electricity. Through this project, Evonik and Siemens aim to contribute to a climate-neutral future.

At the project center in Marl, they are bringing together two processes involving a bioreactor and an electrolyzer to create artificial photosynthesis. “The innovative technology of Rheticus has the potential to help the energy transition succeed,” says Thomas Haas, the project leader at Evonik. “In the future this platform could be installed wherever a supply of carbon dioxide is available, for example at power plants or biogas systems.”

During the first phase of the project the two companies worked on developing the technical feasibility of the process. Rheticus II, which is receiving about €3.5 million in support from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, was launched at the end of 2019.

Core expertise from two companies

Each of the two companies is bringing its own core expertise to the project. Siemens is providing the world’s first carbon dioxide electrolyzer, which uses electricity to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbon monoxide and hydrogen in the first step of the process. Inside the bioreactor from Evonik, special microorganisms transform the synthesis gas that has been generated into valuable chemicals. In test operations in Marl, the bacteria are generating butanol and hexanol for research purposes. These two products can be used as starting materials for special plastics or feed additives.