Chemical recycling, CO2 emissions using different chemical recycling routes, production of substitute fuels – these were the topics at the first meeting of the National Network for a Circular Carbon Economy NK2. The network was set up in January 2019 by the Fraunhofer Institute for the Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS and the Institute of Energy Process Engineering and Chemical Engineering IEC at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. Its members are interested in discussing the circular carbon economy on a cross-sectoral basis and encouraging its development through cooperation.

Die Mitglieder des Netzwerks trafen sich bei der AWVC Abfallverwertungsgesellschaft mbH in Chemnitz.
© Fraunhofer IMWS
The network’s members met at the waste recycling company AWVC Ab-fallverwertungsgesellschaft mbH in Chemnitz.

At the initial meeting held at the waste recycling company AWVC Abfallverwertungsgesellschaft mbH in Chemnitz on September 19th, 2019 the participants discussed topics that included studies on the comparison of CO2 audits for different scenarios of circular carbon economies via the technology routes of pyrolysis and gasification and through waste recycling and chemical recycling. There were also insights into waste recycling, the production of substitute fuels and the prospects for the chemical recycling of substitute fuels when the option of co-incinerating substitute fuels no longer exists following fossil fuel phase-out.

During a visit to the mechanical-physical waste recycling plant at the Chemnitz municipal utilities company the participants were able to experience the production of substitute fuels close at hand throughout the entire process, from delivery of waste, sorting and preparation to the manufacture of the ready-to-use pellets. Knut Förster, the host and one of the managers of AWVC answered participants’ questions on technical, economic and licensing aspects.

The NK2 network has set itself the goal of approaching the topic of the circular carbon economy on a sector-wide basis, addressing outstanding problems, promoting the necessary technical developments and preparing industrial projects. A particular focus is CO2 reduction and the protection of fossil resources through chemical recycling as an alternative to combustion. Here, the integration of emission-free green hydrogen generated from renewable energies plays an important role. Apart from the Fraunhofer IMWS and the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, many companies operating in the fields of energy, chemistry, waste management and plant construction such as Air Liquide, Arvos, BASF, DOMO, Dow, COVESTRO, LyondellBasell, RWE and ROMONTA are also members of the NK2 network.

“We can look back at a very successful initiation of the network and the extremely interesting exchange at our first meeting”, says Dr. Roh Pin Lee, the network’s coordinator. “We have already won over a number of very important players. In my view, the next priority should be a dialogue with other interested partners from industry, politics and society, especially NGOs. Their attention should be drawn to the importance of chemical recycling and the circular carbon economy. The primary aim should be to raise awareness and to ensure that any debate is conducted on an objective basis and based on reliable data.”