“For us, carbon dioxide isn’t a waste product, but rather a valuable raw material with great prospects,” explains Dan Taroata, the project manager from the consortium leader, Siemens. In the eEthylen project, Taroata and his colleagues are working together with experts from Evonik, the Technical University of Berlin, Ruhr University Bochum, and the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg to study how CO2 can be converted into ethylene. Taorata is convinced that CO2 will not only help to produce coveted materials but will also open up new business opportunities for Siemens.
With the help of a direct single-stage electrolysis system, the researchers are using electricity to synthesize ethylene out of carbon dioxide and water. Their work focuses on electro catalysts, because these materials can charge inert CO2 with its energy-rich electrons into ethylene. If the electrons instead congregate in the surrounding water, the process produces only hydrogen. That’s why the choice of which catalyst to use determines whether the method will be successful or not.