Imagine a world in which carbon dioxide (CO2) is no longer harmful to our future, but rather considered a useful feedstock for high value chemicals and materials.
Our Volta Technology, Avantium’s carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) solution, unlocks CO2 as a new carbon source for the chemicals and the plastics industry, enables cleaner processes through its use of electrons as reagents and allows industrial parties to reduce their CO2 emissions. Through the electrochemical conversion of CO2, Avantium can produce formic acid and oxalic acid, as well as derivatives including glycolic acid. These high-value chemicals have a wide range of applications, including the carbon-negative polymer PLGA (polylactic-co-glycolic acid).
By not only using up CO2 that would otherwise contribute to global warming, but also making products that would traditionally be made from fossil carbon, Volta Technology means we can set our sights on a circular future sooner.
Converting CO2 to high-value chemicals and plastics
The Volta Technology programme progresses at the Avantium laboratories in the Amsterdam Science Park. The current Volta platform has been developed by bolstering our existing electro-catalytic know-how with the acquisition of Liquid Light Inc.
In 2022, two demonstration units have been successfully trialled at industrial sites in Germany and Greece. Our third Volta Technology demonstration unit converts CO2 into oxalic acid. In a proprietary second, separate process step, this is then turned into glycolic acid. Avantium believes this approach holds significant promise. By combining this glycolic acid with some lactic acid, we can produce polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA), a carbon-negative polymer with valuable characteristics.
PLGA with 80% or more glycolic acid has an excellent barrier against oxygen and moisture, and good mechanical properties. It is furthermore recyclable, and both home compostable and marine degradable. PLGA can be used, for example, as coating material and in moulded plastic materials. This makes PLGA an excellent alternative for fossil-based polyethylene, for example in in paper coating applications.
The Volta laboratories are located at Amsterdam Sciencepark. In collaboration with 35 partners in several EU-projects such as ELCOREL, PERFORM, RECODE, SunCoChem, and OCEAN, we perform R&D work to accelerate our progress and to reach deployment. Avantium is a founding member of the industrial association CO2 Value Europe, where we are part of the board and engage with companies and research institutions that share in the belief that carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies are needed for our circular future.
As part of the OCEAN programme, Avantium installed a mobile Volta Technology container unit at an RWE power plant in Germany in 2021. During a six-month period, the container operated for 1000 hours with the world’s largest gas diffusion CO2 conversion cell and successfully converted CO2, coming directly from the power plant, into potassium formate. As part of the RECODE programme, Avantium also installed a second Volta unit at a Titan cement factory in Greece. During a three-month period, Avantium’s converts CO2, coming directly from a capture facility located at the cement factory, into formate. These pre-pilot containers are an ideal way to test Avantium’s Volta Technology in real-world applications
The Volta technology platform is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.