Para-xylene is a raw material, currently obtained from petrochemicals, for synthetic textiles. University of Toyama, Chiyoda Corporation, Nippon Steel Engineering Co, Nippon Steel Corporation, HighChem Company, and Mitsubishi Corporation have been selected as contractor for a project to develop technology for para-xylene production from carbon dioxide.

The group will improve the innovative catalyst for the production of para-xylene from carbon dioxide, develop a way to mass-produce the catalyst, and develop the process while testing its viability, including its overall economic efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction effect, in order to pave the way for the demonstration phase.

To deal with global climate change, the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from mines, power plants and other sources of pollution need to be resolved while exploring all available technical solutions including carbon recovery technologies.

Initiated by Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Industry (METI) in June 2019, the “Roadmap for Carbon Recycling Technologies” lays out recommendations for the use of carbon recycling technology to extract and collect carbon dioxide as resources and to recover it in the form of diverse carbon compounds for chemical materials or fuels.

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) has launched a development project for the world’s most advanced technology for industrial para-xylene production from carbon dioxide to replace current fossil fuel-derived chemicals, and the group has been selected as contractors for this funded project.

Para-xylene is an important basic compound in the development of PTA and for polyesters such as polyester fabrics and plastic bottles, as a feedstock material. Because of its structure, compared to other compounds from carbon recycling, it can be generated with a comparatively low volume of hydrogen while fixing a huge amount of carbon dioxide. This will create tremendous economic as well as environmental value.

Global demand for para-xylene is about 49 million tonnes per annum. If the current amount of demand for para-xylene is totally converted from fossil fuels to carbon dioxide, potentially 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be fixed in para-xylene per annum.