While experts in various fields discuss the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, the utilization of carbon dioxide (CO2) as chemical feedstock is attracting renewed and rapidly growing interest. The two approaches do not compete; rather, they are complementary: CCS aims CO2 to capture and store huge quantities of CO2, while the chemical exploitation of aims to generate value and develop better and more-efficient processes from a limited part of the waste stream. One of the promising areas of CO2 utilisation is its  application as a raw material for polymer synthesis, as large amounts of CO2 can be fixed for comparatively long periods and value is generated through production of polymer-based materials. Among many other examples, the reaction of CO2 with highly reactive epoxides is a prime example of a feasible and exothermic reaction. Depending on the type of catalyst, the reaction can be steered to furnish polyethercarbonates with short polyether segments linked with carbonate groups (for use as polyols in urethane chemistry), alternating polycarbonates with aliphatic backbone (for use as low permeable barrier material or binder in ceramics), or cyclic carbonates (for use as green solvents).

Key references

  • M. Peters; B. Köhler; W. Kuckshinrichs; W. Leitner; P. Markewitz; T. E. Müller. ChemSusChem (2011), 4(9), 1216-1240: Chemical Technologies for Exploiting and Recycling Carbon Dioxide into the Value Chain.
  • Y. Dienes; W. Leitner; M. G. J. Müller; W. K. Offermans; T. Reier; A. Reinholdt; T. E. Weirich; T. E. Müller. Green Chemistry (2012), 14(4), 1168-1177: Hybrid sol-gel double metal cyanide catalysts for the copolymerisation of styrene oxide and CO2.

Further reading

  • P. Markewitz, W. Kuckshinrichs, W. Leitner, J. Linssen, P. Zapp, R. Bongartz, A. Schreiber, T. E. Müller, Energy Environ. Sci., 2012, 5, 7281-7305: Worldwide innovations in the development of carbon capture technologies and the utilization of CO2.