Jun. 26, 2023
Osaka Metropolitan University
Nippon Steel Corporation
Osaka Metropolitan University, Nippon Steel Corporation (hereinafter "Nippon Steel"), and UBE Corporation (hereinafter "UBE") are pleased to announce that the "Development of one-step synthesis process for polycarbonate diol from CO2" (hereafter "this R&D") has been selected under the "Development of Technologies for Carbon Recycling and Next-Generation Thermal Power Generation/Carbon Recycling and Next Generation Thermal Power Generation Technology Promotion Project/Development of Common Basic Technology for Carbon Recycling Technology" (hereinafter referred to as "this project") solicited by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (hereinafter "NEDO"), and that we started R&D for this in April 2023.
As one means of significantly reducing CO2 emissions, which are associated with the use of fossil fuels, toward the realization of a carbon-neutral society by 2050, it is expected that carbon recycling technology will be established, in which CO2 is regarded as a carbon resource and recycled into a variety of carbon compounds. In particular, hydrogen, which is attracting attention as a fossil fuel alternative, is in short supply, so high value-added carbon compound products that do not require hydrogen are expected to become more widely used and consumed around 2030.
Polycarbonate diol, which was selected as a NEDO-commissioned project on this occasion, is a representative material for producing high value-added carbon compounds that do not require hydrogen and is a raw material for high-performance polyurethanes. Such polyurethanes are widely used worldwide for synthetic leather used as automobile seat materials, paints for outdoor walls, floor coatings, and other applications due to their superior durability, and demand for them is expected to increase in future. The synthesis of polycarbonate diols is usually done in two steps, and the high environmental impact of this process has been a major issue. In contrast, this R&D is a revolutionary process that aims to synthesize polycarbonate diols from CO2 and diol, a type of alcohol, in a single step that has a low environmental impact.
Prior to this R&D, Osaka Metropolitan University and Nippon Steel developed a catalytic process that can efficiently synthesize polycarbonate diol from CO2 and diol in a small-scale reactor and confirmed the basic principles of the synthesis in "NEDO Feasibility Study Program/Uncharted Territory Challenge 2050" project *. In order to expand on the results of this leading research and lead to the next phase of bench test facility design, this R&D will develop catalyst technology and process development on a laboratory basis to ensure high performance even in larger reactors. UBE, the world's leading manufacturer of PCD, is responsible for evaluating product quality, identifying issues until practical application, and examining business feasibility in order to link the research results to commercialization.
Through this project, Osaka Metropolitan University, Nippon Steel, and UBE will contribute to the realization of a carbon-neutral society.
2. Conductors and main R&D activities
Osaka Metropolitan University (re-commissioned from Osaka Metropolitan University: The University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Tohoku University), Nippon Steel, and UBE
(1) Development of catalytic reaction technology (Osaka Metropolitan University)
(1)-1 Development of high-performance solid catalysts (Osaka Metropolitan University)
Development of high-performance solid catalyst effective for this reaction system along with optimization of reaction conditions.
(1)-2 Mechanistic analysis of catalyst surface (The University of Tokyo)
Computationally clarification of the reaction mechanism on the catalyst surface to improve catalysts.
(1)-3 Reactor design based on reaction rate model (Kyoto University)
Construction of a reaction rate model based on experimental data, and design of the reaction format and reactor.
(1)-4 CO2 emissions estimation of the process (LCA) (Tohoku University)
Estimation of CO2 emissions of the developed process flow and proposal for further CO2 reduction processes.
(2) Technology and process study for introducing CO2 into reactors (Nippon Steel)
Study of CO2 introduction technology into reactors in new processes by utilizing CO2 utilization technology accumulated over many years. In addition, study of the process flow of the reaction process and the refining process to lead to a feasibility study.
(3) Evaluation of laboratory products and feasibility study (UBE)
Evaluation of the products obtained from the laboratory reaction evaluation for performance, and as a polycarbonate diol manufacturer, identification of the differences from existing products to improve reaction conditions. In addition, the examination of the business feasibility based on the developed process flow and the existing manufacturing processes.
3. Implementation period
A two-year period from FY2023 to FY2024