The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) has selected a newly formed consortium to develop a variety of technologies that produce para-xylene from recycled CO2.

Formed of the University of Toyama, Chiyoda Corporation, Nippon Steel Engineering, Nippon Steel Corporation, HighChem Company Limited, and Mitsubishi Corporation, the group hopes to address climate change issues by lowering CO2 emissions from factories.

As part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, NEDO has launched a development project through which the group will develop an advanced technology to produce industrial para-xylene from carbon dioxide to substitute existing fuel-derived chemicals.

Para-xylene, an aromatic hydrocarbon, is an important basic compound in the production of pure terephthalic acid which is a feedstock material for polyesters such as polyester fibres and plastic bottles.

Due to its composition, it can be produced with a relatively small amount of hydrogen while fixing a large amount of CO2, compared to other compounds from carbon recycling. 

Global demand for para-xylene is approximately 49 million tonnes per year. Assuming the feedstock for para-xylene of the current demand level is entirely converted from fossil fuels to CO2, theoretically 160 million tons of CO2 could be fixed in the para-xylene per year.

In the project announced today, the group will improve the innovative catalyst for the production of para-xylene from CO2, develop a way to mass-produce the catalyst, and develop the process while studying its feasibility including its overall economic efficiency and CO2 reduction effect in order to pave the way to the demonstration stage.