Chemical company Evonik and Siemens Energy have been contracted to build a pilot electrolysis plant that uses carbon dioxide and water to produce chemicals.

The pilot plant, located in Marl, Germany, will also use electricity from renewable sources and bacteria. It is part of the Rheticus I and II research projects, which are sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

‘I am delighted that we have today given the go-ahead for a new test facility of the very highest standard in Marl,’ said German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek. ‘With Rheticus, we are showing how we can set up climate-friendly production processes in the chemical industry and at the same time manufacture new innovative products.’

According to Evonik, the plant will use artificial photosynthesis technology that uses renewable energies to produce chemicals from CO2 and water through electrolysis with the help of bacteria. This type of artificial photosynthesis can serve as an energy store and thus help to close the carbon cycle and reduce carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere. It consists of a CO electrolyzer developed by Siemens Energy, a water electrolyzer and a bioreactor. In the electrolyzers, carbon dioxide and water are converted into carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) with electricity in a first step. This synthesis gas is used by microorganisms to produce specialty chemicals, initially for research purposes.

This story uses material from Evonik, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.