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CO2 Electroreduction: circular innovation in pulp and paper

The pulp and paper sector significantly impacts global CO2 emissions, which makes it necessary to explore inventive solutions that endorse sustainability and circularity in the industry. This paper delves into the potential of the CO2 electrochemical reduction process, an innovative approach poised to address the sector’s environmental hurdles and bolster its circular economy.

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CO2 electrochemical reduction, colloquially known as CO2 electroreduction, is an emerging technology adept at transforming carbon dioxide into beneficial chemicals and fuels, including carbon monoxide, formic acid, and various hydrocarbons. This process provides a two-pronged benefit: it helps curb CO2 emissions and simultaneously generates valuable byproducts, which can be reincorporated into the pulp and paper manufacturing cycle, thus fostering a circular economic model.

In this paper, we initially sketch an overview of the existing state of the pulp and paper sector, emphasizing its environmental footprint and underscoring the need for inventive strategies to curtail its carbon emissions. Following this, we introduce the notion of CO2 electroreduction, elucidating its foundational principles, the catalysts involved, and the diverse products that can be synthesized through this mechanism.

Subsequently, we venture into the potential applications of CO2 electroreduction within the pulp and paper industry, specifically focusing on how the end-products of the process can be leveraged to create a more circular and sustainable industry. We discuss the use of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons as alternative energy sources or raw materials for paper production and related goods. We also consider the possibility of using formic acid as an eco-friendly alternative to conventional pulping and bleaching chemicals, which could further diminish the industry’s environmental imprint.

We then present recent case studies and advancements in CO2 electroreduction research, highlighting its potential for large-scale integration within the pulp and paper industry. As part of a chemical plant and equipment manufacturing company, we also address the challenges of implementing this technology, touching on aspects such as the need for efficient catalysts, energy consumption, and scalability of the process.

The paper wraps up with a highlight of the role innovation plays in promoting circularity in the pulp and paper sector. The deployment of CO2 electroreduction technology could not only help reduce the industry’s environmental consequences but also herald a more sustainable and circular future. By fostering cooperation among researchers, industry stakeholders, and policymakers, we can expedite the development and execution of such innovative solutions, which ultimately pave the way towards a greener and more sustainable global environment.

Author:

Mohammad Rezaei1

1 GIG Karasek GmbH, Austria

Corresponding author: Mohammad Rezaei. Affiliation. GIG Karasek GmbH, Industriestraße 21, A-4800, Attnang-Puchheim, Austria.

Phone: +43-2662-42780-260. [email protected].

Keywords: Carbon Utilization, Circular Economy, CO2 Electroreduction, CO2 Valorization, Sustainable Innovation

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