Light-assisted and thermal heterogeneous catalysis for the direct conversion of CO2 to olefins

The C2O project aims to develop innovative processes and catalysts for the sustainable conversion of CO2 into olefins.


Key building blocks

Light olefins (like ethylene and propylene) are key building blocks for the chemical industry. In Flanders, they are produced on a huge scale. Their production, mostly through steam cracking of naphtha, results in significant CO2 emissions.

From CO2 to olefins

Recently, an alternative olefin production method has emerged: the thermocatalytic route. This production method avoids CO2 emissions by directly converting CO2 with hydrogen to olefins, in a cascade reaction via methanol. Importantly, this new route has proven to be more effective in reducing CO2 emissions compared to the electrification of existing production processes.

Processes and catalysts

For the industrial implementation of the CO2-to-olefins route, efficient processes and selective catalysts still need to be developed. The C2O project aims to develop these innovative processes and catalysts, using two approaches, both running through methanol: thermocatalytic tandem CO2 hydrogenation on the one hand and light-assisted catalytic tandem CO2 hydrogenation on the other.

CCU at its best

All in all, olefins are one of the most promising target chemicals for Carbon Capture & Utilization (CCU). They allow for a significant CO2 intake per kilogram of product and a long CO2 storage time in the form of recyclable plastic products. On top of that, olefins exhibit a higher tolerance to fluctuating electricity prices than other potential target chemicals such as methanol or ammonia. In short, the C2O project is CCU at its best!


By enabling further innovation in CO2 conversion technologies, C2O will allow Flemish industries to efficiently convert CO2 into valuable chemical building blocks. This will enable the industry to significantly reduce its CO2 emissions.

Project details

Project type
ESI Project
Research trajectory
Project status
Approved on
Project date
€854 209

Project Partners