Evonik and Siemens launched their joint research project Rheticus II. The goal is to develop an efficient and powerful test plant that will use carbon dioxide and water as well as electricity from renewable sources and bacteria to produce specialty chemicals.
€3.5 million funding
In the Rheticus I project, the two companies develope the technically feasible basis for artificial photosynthesis using a bioreactor and electrolyzers. Evonik and Siemens are now combining these two, previously separate plants in a test facility at Evonik’s site in Marl (Germany). Rheticus II will run until 2021 and will receive funding of around €3.5 million from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Installable anywhere CO2 is available
“The innovative technology used for Rheticus has the potential to contribute to the success of Germany's energy transition,” says Thomas Haas, who is responsible for the Rheticus project at Evonik. “In the future, this platform could be installed anywhere CO2 is available—for example, at power plants or biogas plants. We use available CO2 as the raw material for the production of high-value chemicals using artificial photosynthesis.”
Siemens is contributing the world's first CO2 electrolyzer to the Rheticus project. Karl-Josef Kuhn, in charge of Power2X research at Siemens: “We are making it possible to store renewable energy by converting it into useful substances such as specialty chemicals or fuel. We are also contributing to the stability of the grid because production is so flexible that we can respond to fluctuations in power supply.”
The test facility is scheduled to start operating in early 2020. It comprises electrolyzers and a bioreactor. In a first step, carbon dioxide and water are converted into carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen in electrolyzers with the aid of electricity. Special microorganisms then convert the CO in the gases synthesized in this way into chemicals.