The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion is involved in the joint project Carbon2Chem®, a large-scale initiative on climate protection with 17 partners from industry and science. The project aims at turning CO2 and other gases (Hüttengase) from steel mills into chemicals. Furthermore, renewable energies play a big role. For the conversion of the mentioned gases, plenty of hydrogen is needed. This hydrogen can be won by the means of electrolysis with the help of "green" energy.

The aim is to make CO2 emissions economically viable and thus achieve a climate-relevant CO2 saving effect. Prof. Schlögl, director at the MPI CEC and one of the initiators of the project.

"With Carbon2Chem® we show how climate protection and competitive steel production can be successfully combined in Germany thanks to research and innovation. This will secure jobs in the steel industry in our country. This secures Germany as an industrial location." Johanna Wanka, former Federal Minister of Education and Research (translated).

The partners from science and industry are building a bridge from basic research to the market with Carbon2Chem®.

Detailed information on the progress of the project and further details can be found at: FONA und Fraunhofer UMSICHT

About the project

Title: Carbon2Chem®

Duration: 15 March 2016 - 31 May 2020 (1st funding period)

BMBF-Funding: 60 million Euros

Project partners: AkzoNobel, BASF, Clariant, Covestro, Evonik, Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme (ISE), Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik (UMSICHT), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Linde, Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Energiekonversion, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, RWTH Aachen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Siemens, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, thyssenkrupp, Volkswagen, Zentrum für Brennstoffzellentechnik (ZBT)

Climate protection in the industry: Carbon2Chem® focusses on the same topic area as the BMBF-feasibility study MACOR, which examines the SALCOS-concept in detail. SALCOS is a further alternative how CO2 emissions at steel plants can be further reduced. Contrary to Carbon2Chem®, SALCOS will not utilize the blast furnace gases for chemical products, but will modify the initial process of steel making by integrating "green" hydrogen. As a consequence, SALCOS belongs to the CDA (Carbon Direct Avoidance) instruments while Carbon2Chem® is part of the CCU (Carbon Capture and Usage/Utilisation) actions.

Lab5 in the Carbon2Chem® pilot plant in Duisburg

Processing of metallurgical gases for the production of chemicals 

The MPI CEC at the Carbon2Chem® pilot plant

Before metallurgical gases from steel production can be used for the production of chemicals, the main components of the available coke oven gases, blast furnace gases and converter gases as well as their trace components have to be investigated in detail. These analyses are required for the design of the necessary gas purification and subsequent catalytic production processes, such as methanol synthesis. This is the task of the team around Dr. Jorge Ivan Salazar Gómez, research associate in the Catalytic Technology Group at the MPI CEC, as part of the Carbon2Chem® project.

In 2016, special containers to conduct such measurements were designed for this task in the frame of the HüGaProp project at MPI CEC. [1] These containers are now located on the steel mill site of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe (TKSE). The Max Planck scientists optimized the measurement method with a new type of mass spectrometer, a PTR-QiTOF-MS (Proton Transfer Reaction Quadrupole interface Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometer), in order to characterize trace components even in very low concentration ranges (parts per billion (ppb) or parts per trillion (ppt)) in the steel mill gases. The main components of the gases are determined by gas chromatography. 

Initially, the gases were analyzed directly on the premises of the steel mill. In the meantime, the containers have been moved to the Carbon2Chem® technical center so that the gas composition of the gases used can be analyzed there. Here, measurements are taken before gas purification, providing the project partners with valuable information for optimizing gas purification.

At the same time, the MPI CEC moved into Laboratory5 in the Carbon2Chem® pilot plant to control the purified gases there. For this purpose, a PTR-QiTOF-MS is used for continuous analysis of the trace components, which is identical in design to the one in the HüGaProp container. The major and minor components are monitored via two state-of-the-art μ-GCs. In this way, the proper functioning of the designed gas purification is checked and, if necessary, trace components that remain in the gas despite the purification and could interfere with downstream processes are identified. This would not be possible with conventional measurement methods.

In this way, our scientists and technicians contribute decisively to the singular success story of Carbon2Chem®.

[1] Salazar Gómez JI, Klucken C, Sojka M, Waydbrink G, Schlögl R, Ruland H. The HüGaProp‐Container: Analytical Infrastructure for the Carbon2Chem® Challenge. Chem Ing Tech. 2020, Accepted. DOI: 10.1002/cite.202000101.

Lab5 in the Carbon2Chem® pilot plant

Interactive laboratory tour

Subproject methanol car

In September 2021, Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek presented the prototype of a car that can be powered by the synthetic fuel methanol.

The methanol car presented is part of the Carbon2Chem® project. Since 2020, the project partners have been driving forward the industrial implementation of the project and, in this context, establishing value chains for the products generated. In August 2021, the methanol car came into focus. For this purpose, a concept for a serial hybrid drive for automobiles, among other things, is being further developed, optimized and implemented as a demonstrator.

Carbon2Chem joint project L-8 methanol car

The complementary joint project focuses on the use and utilization of methanol, one of Carbon2Chem®'s main products, and thus aims to develop a new concept for sustainable individual mobility.

In the L-8 project, Obrist DE GmbH will further develop its highly efficient vibration-free combustion engine to operate on methanol and methanol-based fuels. In cooperation with the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden, the engine will be optimized in terms of consumption, emissions and exhaust gas aftertreatment. In the next step, the demonstrator vehicles will be built and optimized in cooperation with RWTH Aachen University and validated by means of road tests.

Funding amount: approx. 9.8 million euros | Project partners: 4 | Project duration: 01.08.2021 to 31.07.2025
Further information on the methanol car can be found on the BMBF website: link