Upscaling effects on the purity of circular formic acid for ecological descaler production

September 2022 – August 2024
The awareness of society in terms of sustainability and the fragility of ecosystems and our environment has pushed governments to pass legislation imposing stricter product requirements on industry. Companies are therefore looking for alternative feedstocks with less impact on the environment. This implies that the origin of these feedstocks has to be renewable or they have to be recycled from what would otherwise be a waste stream. A pioneer in this matter is Ecover. It is their mission to produce cleaning agents ecologically, economically and in a socially responsible manner. They are actively looking to replace feedstocks with environmentally-friendly alternatives without compromising on quality. An example of an active component used in descaling products is formic acid which is currently obtained from fossil resources.

This PoC project serves to investigate the compatibility of formic acid produced from CO2 (with varying purity using specific catalysts) with the product specifications and formulations of Ecover’s descaling products. Therefore, contaminants in the product stream originating from impurities in the CO2 feed or introduced by the catalyst will be determined. Once satisfactory results are achieved, the formic acid will be subjected to Ecover’s quality control and formulation compatibility will be investigated. The complementarity of the three partners in this project in terms of fundamental catalyst properties, reactor engineering and descaling products ensures a market driven technology transfer.

At the end of this project, a batch of 50 L renewable formic acid will be produced and an assessment will be made if the batch can be used for the production of CO2 neutral descalers by Ecover and how this would be practically implemented. This will prove the potential of the technology on an economical and technical level to the broader public.