We create polymers to produce furniture or telephones from CO2
The NEOSPOL PROJECT, one of the most recent innovations developed by the scientists and researchers at the Repsol Technology Lab, constitutes a great qualitative leap in the field of polymers.
This project is developing polymers with differential features that have CO2 in their chemical structure. One such polymer is the polycarbonate polyol.
Polyols are highly present in our daily lives thanks to their different properties, which make them a very versatile material with innumerous applications. Flexible, rigid, and CASE polyols (coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers) can be found in industries such as construction, in furniture, and even in smartphones and gadgets.
Through NEOSPOL, Repsol has developed a new technology to synthesize a new type of polyol with CO2, replacing an expensive fossil resource (propylene oxide) with the abundant and sustainable alternative of carbon dioxide.
This a technological challenge that experts at the Repsol Technology Lab have responded to with a customized catalyst that has very specific activation properties to ensure that the maximum amount of CO2 molecules are added to the polyols. With this technology we have created a product that considerably reduces carbon footprints.
Another advantage of polycarbonate polyols is that they enhance the properties of different polyurethane products such as foam, adhesives, and elastomers, adding more elasticity and adherence than conventional polyols. They also have specific properties that mean they can be applied in other ways in the future.
NEOSPOL presents a highly competitive, state-of-the-art technology, capable of creating a product using CO2, paving the way for ever more efficient and sustainable polymers.
The project focused on generating solar fuels came about in response to the urgent demand for technology that will make it possible to generate energy with a small carbon footprint, promoting efficiency and society’s well-being.
This initiative, which came about in the Repsol Technology Lab, puts cutting-edge technology at the disposal of scientists and researchers who can use it to generate sustainable solar fuels. This is done by artificially imitating the natural process of photosynthesis performed by plants, also known as the photoelectrocatalytic reduction of CO2. With a photoelectrocatalytic cell, using CO2 and water—and light as the main energy source—Repsol Technology Lab experts are able to produce more complex molecules such as formic acid, methane, and methanol, among others, which can be used as fuel.
This technology also makes it possible to produce synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide molecules, which can be used as the starting point for many chemical processes. This means that we can produce not only solar fuels, but also the basic components for generating even more complex products. In addition, this process makes it possible to generate hydrogen with a small carbon footprint compared to the hydrogen generated from steam reforming, representing a great potential to reduce CO2 emissions if it replaces the conventional process.
During the process of photoelectrocatalysis, when a photon hits the surface of what we call a photoelectrode, a charge separation occurs within its semiconductor material. This causes electrons to jump to higher energy states, leaving positively-charged holes in their place. This results in the formation of electron–hole pairs, which are responsible for the reactions involved in the conversion of CO2. The holes can participate in oxidation reactions, such as the oxidation of water into oxygen. The electrons, on the other hand, participate in reduction reactions, and can reduce CO2 or water molecules, producing added-value products.
For all of this to happen, artificial photosynthesis has to be performed in the presence of a set of structural and functional components capable of capturing light efficiently and which can perform the catalytic reactions that allow solar energy to be converted to chemical energy. Therefore, we use cutting-edge technology developed by the science and research team at the Repsol Technology Lab in cooperation with the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC).
The Transform CO2 project has the goal of developing new processes associated with the great challenge of converting CO2 into added-value products. It has been carried out in collaboration with companies, universities, and technology centers to approach the study of the most promising technologies in an exploratory and competitive manner.
During the prospection phase, we select the technologies to be brought into play. For each technology, we visualize a way for the energy of each process to interact with the materials (not only from a catalytic point of view) and with CO2 and water molecules.
We assessed technologies like catalytic hydrogenation, high-temperature electrolysis, and direct transformation of solar energy into chemical energy.
This was done by carrying out proofs of concept that allowed us to go beyond the current state-of-the-art. This way, the project will allow us to quickly visualize which technologies can have technical and financial success, swiftly abandoning those that don’t meet the established criteria.
With the CO2FUNNELS PROJECT, we aim to reduce emissions of CO2 and give this gas a use. Headed by the Repsol Technology Lab as part of an initiative of the Ministry of Science and Innovation’s Plan E, this research project is carried out at the Puertollano Refinery.
The SOST-CO2 PROJECT was launched to promote the research and development of new technologies that incentivize the sequestration, use and transformation of CO2, preventing it from being emitted into the atmosphere and providing added value. The aim is to find a sustainable alternative, connecting sequestration of CO2 with its subsequent reuse. This project is part of the CENIT Program and it was launched with the support of the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), a dependent entity of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.