This article is part of the special Tech4Climate, Startups for the environment by Italian Tech, on newsstands today 6 October with The print (Piedmont, Val d’Aosta and Liguria editions), Sentinel of the Canavese, The Province of Pavia, Journal of Mantua, Courier of the Alps, The Tribuna of Treviso, Il Mattino di Padova, The New Venice, Il Piccolo e The Messenger Veneto, and tomorrow 7 October with The XIX Century.
Co2nvert is a circular economy startup, based in Udine, which has developed a technology capable of transforming carbon dioxide into ethanol, favoring the removal of a pollutant from the atmosphere, converting CO? into an industrial resource and replacing less sustainable production methods. Founded in 2021 by Paolo Licata and Dario Bartolo, set up as a startup in August 2022, Co2nvert is a company born from this premise: “Carbon dioxide today can be removed from the atmosphere and used in the production of chemical products, for now we are focused on ethanol “explained Bartolo, 25, two degrees, from Catania, Erasmus and first work experience in Sweden,” from Udine – he said – I liked the training offer “.
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The production of ethanol, Bartolo explained, “takes place in a sustainable way” through “hydrogen, derived from the electrolysis of water”. The whole process “is powered by electricity produced from renewable sources and is carbon-negative: it does not add CO? To the atmosphere, on the contrary it removes it”. To date, Co2nvert has no carbon dioxide capture plants, which will be implemented in a second phase. Yeah, but why ethanol? “At the moment in Europe there are only research groups dealing with this product”. Yet the market is “from fuels to alcoholic beverages, perfumes, cosmetics, sanitizing sprays”. To date, ethanol is produced by fermentation, “ours is a more refined and sustainable process but also more expensive”. Co2nvert, Bartolo explained, is focusing its attention on cosmetics. “perfumes in particular”. A strategy that is mainly aimed at companies. At the moment Co2nvert is in an experimental phase but when fully operational it plans to “remove 3.8 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kg of ethanol produced, the same amount of CO? Removed every day from 65 trees”.
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“We were born as a startup a few months ago, but we have been working on this project for two years” remarked Bartolo. In this period “we have involved Swiss and Dutch chemists and researchers and today we count as a partner Hulteberg Chemistry & Engineering, a Swedish company”. Co2nvert is a project born at the University of Udine, “thanks to Enactus, a university competition for social and sustainable business ideas, which we won in 2021″. The future? “A first demonstration plant and a first perfume production at the beginning of 2023”.
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