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Bio-based industries leading the way in turning carbon dioxide emissions into chemicals

Proposals should address one of the following mutually compatible concepts:

- innovative technologies for converting CO2 from industrial plants processing biomass into bio-based products, as direct feedstock for the production of added-value chemicals and their integration into the plants’ flowchart; and

- biotechnological processes for the conversion of CO2 into added-value chemicals.

Proposals should include a life cycle assessment of the environmental performance of the concept. This should go beyond impacts in terms of climate change. Proposals should address business models, operations and logistics, considering also the possibility of industrial symbiosis if relevant. They should also explore the socio economic and regulatory measures required to support the use of CO2 as a raw material for the production of chemicals. In order to avoid duplication of previously EU-funded projects, the development of algae-based concepts is excluded. The technology readiness levels (TRLs) covered by the projects should range from 3 to 5. Cooperation with other selected proposals under this topic is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting an EU contribution of around EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The use of industrially emitted or atmospheric CO2 as a raw material offers a number of opportunities for European industry. It is not only a key means of fighting climate change, but also supports the circular economy (by converting waste CO2 into products) and opens new ways of coupling environmental protection and economic growth.

The industrial conversion of CO2 faces technical challenges that call for scientific progress and research support. One of the main technological bottlenecks is the low energy content of CO2, which results in highly energy-intensive conversion processes. While substantial R&D effort has been devoted to the use of CO2 as a feedstock for fuels, research organisations and their industrial counterparts are now turning the attention to the pathway to (longer-life) added-value chemicals. This is particularly the case in bio-based industries, for two main reasons:

- integrating CO2 use technologies in industrial operations using biomass could make it offer the possible to achieve zero or negative greenhouse gas emissions; and

- biotechnological processes are a promising route for the use of CO2.

Short/medium term

  • development of breakthrough technologies for the conversion of CO2 into high added-value chemicals;
  • design of an integrated process with zero or negative greenhouse gas emissions;
  • new business models and value chains in the CO2 utilisation sector;
  • definition of targets of the conversion process including energy requirements, production costs and product yields; and

long term

  • diversification of the economic base of bio-based industries.