Resource-efficient production of CO₂-containing surface-active materials

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Surface-active agents or surfactants are very versatile and are used in many everyday applications. They are used in detergents and in household cleaners, among other things but also in the textile and oil industries, pharmaceuticals and agriculture. They are manufactured on an industrial scale which provides an easily scalable lever for more sustainable solutions, as a large proportion of these materials are currently produced using petroleum derivatives such as ethylene oxide (EO).

The predecessor project “DreamResource” showed that it is possible to replace more than 16 percent of EO with carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 was able to be used as an alternative component in reactive polyols such as rigid polyurethane foams, but also in surfactants. The joint project “DreamResourceConti” now aims to raise the level of technological maturity by optimizing the process and increasing the production scale. The project partners want to develop a continuous production process and expand the use of CO2 to additional areas of application.

The main goal is to increase resource efficiency by using CO2 to manufacture numerous products. The use of CO2 as an additional component for surfactants broadens the raw material base for many applications. In addition, the greenhouse gas CO2 is recycled in the material cycle, which is an important step on the way to a functioning, climate-friendly circular economy.

Two academic partners and one company are joining forces in “DreamResourceConti”. Besides the application-oriented, technical development, this cooperation also has advantages when analyzing the results. The cooperation promotes understanding through the intensive characterization and analysis of new kinds of substances. In addition, ecological and techno-economic evaluations make it easier to assess the potential of this innovation.