Academy Offer

Extended to August 15

Claim a 20% discount on all eLearning and virtual courses purchases with code EDU20OFF.

This promotion does not apply to the credential programs.

(554g) Early-Stage Evaluation Procedure for CO2 Utilization Technologies at Low Technology Readiness Levels: A Case Study for Electrochemical Production of Ethylene

Roh, K. - Presenter, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Bardow, A., RWTH Aachen University
Bongartz, D., RWTH Aachen University
Burre, J., RWTH Aachen University
Chung, W., Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Lee, J. H., Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Deutz, S., RWTH Aachen University
Han, D., Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Heßelmann, M., RWTH Aachen University
König, A., RWTH Aachen University
Lee, J. S., Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Meys, R., RWTH Aachen University
Völker, S., Institute of Technical Thermodynamics
Wessling, M., RWTH Aachen University
Mitsos, A., RWTH Aachen University
Kohlhaas, Y., RWTH Aachen University
CO2 utilization (CU) has attracted much attention in both industry and academia due to its potential to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while generating economic benefits1,2. Most emerging CO2 utilization technologies still remain at low technology readiness levels (TRLs)3 except a few cases such as the production of commodities4,5 and synthetic fuels6,7. Given the large number of potential CU technologies, successful early-stage evaluation can identify promising ones to guide R&D investments. Thereby, overall cost can be reduced drastically since large-scale experiments and demonstration at higher TRLs are by far the highest cost components in process development can be prevented for non-promising technologies8. However, key challenges of early-stage evaluation are the limited availability and uncertainty of data9 that are addressed in this contribution.

We propose a systematic and comprehensive procedure for the early-stage evaluation of emerging CU technologies. More specifically, we employ the TRL scale and focus on TRL 2–4. The procedure consists of three steps: 1. data preparation, 2. data calculation, and 3. performance indicator calculation. The performance indicators are grouped into five categories: material, energy, GHG reduction, economics, and combined GHG reduction and economics. The procedure also depends on the type of CU technology, namely, thermochemical, electrochemical, and biological CO2 conversion. We demonstrate the proposed procedure on co-electrolysis of CO2 and H2O for ethylene production10,11, which is studied as if it were at TRL 2, 3, and 4. We conceptually design the ethylene production process (for the analysis at TRL 4). Then we calculate the performance indicators to discuss how the evaluation outcomes evolve with increasing TRL.


  1. Kätelhön A, Meys R, Deutz S, Suh S, Bardow A. Climate change mitigation potential of carbon capture and utilization in the chemical industry. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2019;116(23):11187-11194. doi:10.1073/pnas.1821029116
  2. Roh K, Al‐Hunaidy AS, Imran H, Lee JH. Optimization‐based identification of CO2 capture and utilization processing paths for life cycle greenhouse gas reduction and economic benefits. AIChE J. 2019;65(7):e16580. doi:10.1002/aic.16580
  3. Zimmermann AW, Schomäcker R. Assessing Early-Stage CO2 utilization Technologies—Comparing Apples and Oranges? Energy Technol. 2017;5(6):850-860. doi:10.1002/ente.201600805
  4. Carbon Recycling International. Carbon Recycling International. Published 2018. Accessed June 6, 2018.
  5. von der Assen N, Bardow A. Life cycle assessment of polyols for polyurethane production using CO2 as feedstock: insights from an industrial case study. Green Chem. 2014;16(6):3272. doi:10.1039/c4gc00513a
  6. Sunfire GmbH. Sunfire - Syngas. Published 2018. Accessed June 9, 2018.
  7. Rönsch S, Schneider J, Matthischke S, et al. Review on methanation – From fundamentals to current projects. Fuel. 2016;166:276-296. doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2015.10.111
  8. Zimmermann A, Wunderlich J, Buchner G, et al. Techno-Economic Assessment & Life-Cycle Assessment Guidelines for CO2 Utilization.; 2018. doi:10.3998/2027.42/145436
  9. Ulonska K, Skiborowski M, Mitsos A, Viell J. Early-stage evaluation of biorefinery processing pathways using process network flux analysis. AIChE J. 2016;62(9):3096-3108. doi:10.1002/aic.15305
  10. Yano H, Tanaka T, Nakayama M, Ogura K. Selective electrochemical reduction of CO2 to ethylene at a three-phase interface on copper(I) halide-confined Cu-mesh electrodes in acidic solutions of potassium halides. J Electroanal Chem. 2004;565(2):287-293. doi:10.1016/j.jelechem.2003.10.021
  11. Vennekoetter J-B, Sengpiel R, Wessling M. Beyond the catalyst: How electrode and reactor design determine the product spectrum during electrochemical CO2 reduction. Chem Eng J. 2019;364(September 2018):89-101. doi:10.1016/j.cej.2019.01.045