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D-CRBN (Flanders) pilots project to reduce CO2 emissions

D-CRBN, a spin-off company of research group Plasmant from the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp), has developed cutting-edge technology that enables the conversion of CO2. The Flanders-based start-up hopes to build a plant at the Port of Antwerp that could process as much as one million tons of CO2 into raw materials.

Europe has set ambitious goals in the fight against global warming and other environmental issues. By 2030, it wants 40% lower CO2 emissions. By 2050, the EU must be climate neutral.

Transition from the lab to practice

Research group Plasmant has developed an innovative new technology that allows for harmful CO2 molecules, once captured, to be broken down into their original building blocks. These can then be used as 'ingredients' for producing biofuels, chemicals and polymers. Plasma, the fourth state of matter, plays a key role in this process.

Researchers Annemie Bogaerts and Gill Scheltjens have been researching applications for plasma for years. With the creation of spin-off company D-CRBN (read: de-carbon), they aim to expand the technology into a full-fledged industrial application.

18 million tons of CO2

Primary targets are companies at the Port of Antwerp, specifically in the (petro)chemical and steel industries, bearing in mind that the Port of Antwerp emits some 18 million tons of CO2 annually. The goal is to help these companies make the transition to a circular and more sustainable economy.

We want to build a pilot plant first and later scale up to a much larger complex. Within two years, the pilot plant should be able to process 1,000 tons of CO2 to turn into raw materials. In time, D-CRBN wants to build an installation that can process up to 1 million tons.

Gill Scheltjens
co-founder D-CRBN

Costs and benefits

"The plant will cost EUR 150 to 170 million to build,” explains Scheltjens. “The electricity costs another EUR 170 million a year. But for the companies, this will be recouped after three years. They no longer have to buy European emissions rights, which are becoming more and more expensive. And the CO2 is a raw material. Per year, it’s possible to gain EUR 60 million. Companies will pay slightly more than they would if they stored CO2 , but storage is not sustainable."

According to Scheltjens, there is interest from major industrial players such as BASF, Ineos or ArcelorMittal. By 2030, he considers the plant feasible.

More info

Reported by
Gazet van Antwerpen newspaper
13 July 2021

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