Catalyst and process development, CO2 and energy conversion
The production of renewable electricity undergoes natural fluctuations. These fluctuations are mostly compensated by ramping up and down the output of conventional power plants. In contrast to that, the operation of chemical energy conversion processes with regenerative electricity offers the possibility for CO2-neutral energy storage. The Fraunhofer IGBs Straubing branch “Bio, Electro, and Chemocatalysis BioCat” develops catalysts and processes for the conversion of electric energy and CO2 in liquid energy carriers. Thereby, Fraunhofer IGB BioCat uses and combines the whole spectrum of catalysis (heterogeneous, homogeneous, bio-, and electrocatalysis). The main criteria for the developments are: high energy efficiency, scalability, possibility for decentral operation, flexibility for intermittent operation. A prominent, first-of-its-class example is a process which combines the CO2-based methanol synthesis with the methanol fermentation to longer chain hydrocarbons (DE102016203889). In the frame of the EU Project CELBICON, BioCat aims the combination of electrochemical synthesis of liquid C1-intermediates followed by C1-Fermentation to terpenes. The national project "eleMeMe" set the goal to use the methanol/CO2 system for decoupling the energy generation from consumption. Furthermore, BioCat also develops processes for the synthesis of CO2-based bulk chemicals (ethylene, ethylene-oxide).