The objective of CyclicCO2R is to create a process that removes the dependency on fossil fuel and increases the energy efficiency to create a net CO2 uptake in the production of cyclic carbonates, especially glycerol carbonate. As an inexpensive waste product from bio-diesel production, glycerol will be the main raw material, along with CO2, ensuring cost effectiveness and, thereby, a maximum commercial potential. Two production routes will be explored in order of preference:
- A direct route: converting glycerol directly to glycerol carbonate. Starting point will be the use of pure glycerol, but ultimately impure glycerol derived directly from biodiesel production will be used. Main challenges reside in the catalyst activity and the necessity to remove both water and product in-situ.
- An indirect route: converting glycerol to glycerol carbonate, through the formation of epoxides. The indirect route has the potential to create enantiomerically pure cyclic carbonates.
The aim of both routes is to use impure CO2 directly from the source. Besides these 2 routes the feasibility of producing the starting materials for the production of cyclic carbonates from CO2 and H2O using sustainable energy will be evaluated resulting in a roadmap for their implementation.
The research will focus on:
- Developing the optimal catalyst-process combination in terms of activity, catalyst recoverability and optimal immobilization technique. Make the process capable of using impure glycerol and CO2.
- Intensifying the reactions in a continuous flow reactor, focusing on energy efficiency and increased product yields. Optimise the productivity by in-situ removal of products and by-products.
- Creating a mini-plant scale process which starts with the impure renewable raw materials and CO2 and produces cyclic carbonates.
- Completing the design of a scaled-up process integrated with a chemicals plant so that the developed technology is directly transferrable to industry.
- Provide techno-economic analysis of the process showing the commercial and environmental feasibility of the process”.
CyclicCO2R is part of the European cluster on Catalysis: http://www.catalysiscluster.eu/