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Valuable raw materials from carbon dioxide: New research project at the University of Bayreuth investigates sustainable use of CO₂

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 035/2020, 13 March 2020

With a view to climate protection, ways are being sought worldwide to reduce the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO₂) into the earth's atmosphere. The industrial utilization of CO₂​ emissions is playing an increasingly important role in this process. This is the starting point of a new research project in which the University of Bayreuth is working closely with partners from both the science and industry sectors. The aim is to use CO₂ emissions for the synthesis of the products methane and hydrogen peroxide, which are valuable raw materials in various branches of industry. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will fund the project to the tune of 1.5 million euros over the next three years.


The joint project aims to combine the economic and ecological advantages of utilizing CO₂ emissions. The project partners from science and industry are seeking to jointly develop a photoelectrochemical reaction cell powered by sunlight. This cell will allow the valuable products methane and hydrogen peroxide to be produced from water and carbon dioxide released during the course of various industrial production processes. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most important bleaching and disinfecting agents. It is currently produced at relatively high cost, which could be considerably reduced with the help of the reaction cell. In addition, research is currently being conducted on hydrogen peroxide to determine whether it is suitable as a source of energy, for example in fuel cells. Meanwhile, special catalysts are needed to initiate the chemical conversion of water and carbon dioxide into methane and hydrogen peroxide. These catalysts will also be developed for the planned reaction cell.

"A special feature of our project is that it is being accompanied by a scientific study to constantly check the viability of the underlying concept by means of an environmental and cost analysis", explains Prof. Dr. Roland Marschall, Professor for Physical Chemistry at the University of Bayreuth. As part of the project, he heads a working group that deals with the synthesis and modification of new oxide materials. These oxides are indispensable for the conversion processes that are to eventually take place in the reaction cell.

Research partners and BMBF funding

The joint project is coordinated by H.C. Starck Tantalum and Niobium GmbH based in Goslar. Further research partners are the DECHEMA Research Institute in Frankfurt am Main, the Leibniz University Hannover, neoxid GmbH in Neuss and the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. The project is funded under the BMBF funding guideline "CO₂ as a sustainable source of carbon – ways towards industrial utilization (CO₂-WIN)". It is entitled "CO₂SimO – Photoelectrochemical CO₂ reduction with simultaneous oxidative added value".


Prof. Dr. Roland Marschall
Physical Chemistry III
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-2760
E-Mail: roland.marschall@uni-bayreuth.de
Twitter: @LabMarschall 

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Christian Wißler
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95447 Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356


Ralph Reindler​

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