Voltachem for electrification in the chemical industry

The efficient conversion of raw materials using sustainable energy: this is what the Shared Innovation Program VoltaChem (an initiative of industry, the government and TNO) is all about. In addition to the use of renewable energy for the production of industrial heat and green hydrogen, the research partners are focused on the production of chemical building blocks with higher yields and less waste: Power-2-Chemicals.

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The international chemical industry has a large CO2 footprint, but simultaneously makes many useful products. Industrial electrification is one of the solutions for achieving a CO2-neutral industry, particularly in the production of fuels, (bio)plastics and fertilisers.

Due to the enormous growth in sustainable energy, which is also becoming ever-cheaper, there is a special opportunity to link the application of this (often electrical) energy to the challenge facing the chemical industry.

BUILDING BLOCKS FROM RENEWABLE RAW MATERIALS

Under the name Power-2-Specialties, we use electrochemistry to produce high-quality chemical building blocks from renewable bio-raw materials. Because traditional chemistry is based on cheaper fossil raw materials and fuels such as oil and gas, it has so far won out over more innovative technologies.

Recently, however, advanced electrochemistry has made it possible to run a process much faster and more efficiently. Combined with the need to become CO2-neutral and to use renewable raw materials and energy, this makes for an interesting business case. Electrochemistry is particularly valuable in this respect as it leads to a very pure product for which no extra energy-intensive separation steps are needed following the reaction.

SYNGAS AND FORMIC ACID FROM CO2

Through the research line Power-2-Commodities, we concentrate on the direct, electrochemical conversion of CO2 with a focus on the products syngas and formic acid. Unlike bio-raw materials, CO2 goes into the reactor for this.

We apply our in-depth knowledge of electrochemistry, separation technology, process technology, up-scaling and techno-economic analyses on behalf of companies that want to make a business case for CO2 conversion on a large scale. Among other things, we identify what is needed to carry out the process with the existing specifications, the costs involved and the equipment required to scale up the technology.

PAIRED ELECTROSYNTHESIS

In paired electrosynthesis, conversion takes place on both sides of the electrochemical reactor: the anode and the cathode. At VoltaChem, we develop processes that combine the various chemical reactions in order to arrive at the desired product.

Because a valuable product is produced on both sides, the business case for the electrochemical production system improves considerably. Examples include the conversion of biomass on both sides or the conversion of biomass on one side and CO2 on the other.

POWER-2-INTEGRATE

What impacts do industrial electrification and international market and technology developments have on chemical clusters, technology choices and the business climate? Developments in both the market and the technologies are so rapid that you should be continuously engaged in them. We use models to clearly identify the international flows of raw materials and energy, as well as the market demand for chemical products and the opportunities offered by new technologies.

For example, we have developed an international system model in order to experiment with business cases and regulations in the context of Power-2-X (industrial electrification), as well as a bottom-up model in which various scenarios with bio-raw materials, electricity, product demand and business case pricing are calculated.

WANT TO KNOW MORE OR PARTICIPATE?

Would you like to electrochemically convert a raw material to a specific product, then further develop it into a pilot and implement it? We would be happy to apply our knowledge, experience and network alongside you in order to achieve faster production via electrochemical processes.

This can be done in various ways. The most accessible method is to become a member of the VoltaChem community, a platform in which companies can discuss the progress of the programme and where new alliances and projects can be formed.

We can also set up a shared research programme, a bilateral project or a co-financing project, for example. We would be more than happy to discuss your wishes and the possibilities with you.

Do you want to know more?

Do you see possible applications or would you like to participate in a shared research programme? Please contact Martijn de Graaff

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Sustainable Chemical Industry
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Martijn de Graaff MSc

  • chemical
  • formulation
  • separation
  • process
  • modular

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