Sustainability analysis

Public Acceptance

Worldwide research efforts are directed on the global reduction of CO2. CO2 re-use is a novel approach to reduce CO2 emissions and the use of fossil resources. Currently, the transformation of carbon dioxide as renewable feedstock into useful chemicals is being made commercially feasible. Apart from the technical feasibility of CO2 re-use technologies, research needs to integrate the public perception of the technologies and then CO2 based products. The example of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) shows that lack of public acceptance impedes regulatory approval, sufficient funding or the choice of CCS sites. The  acceptance of future users is a decisive factor for demand — and consequently success — of new and innovative products. The study investigates the public perception and acceptance of CO2 re-use in Germany and identifies main arguments for and against the technology.

Expected results

In contrast to former approaches, in which public acceptance was assessed long after the technology rollout on the market, in this project acceptance is seen as an integral component of technology development. It allows a timely understanding of public perceptions that enable to adequately steer information and communication strategies.

This project delivers insights into acceptance drivers and barriers, perceived benefits and drawbacks connected to CO2 re-use. It provides a holistic and validated methodology to implement technology acceptance in early stages of the technology development process. Findings allow the development professional training programs that promote CO2 re-use for the next generation of science and industry.

What exactly is being done?

In order to catch consumers’ adoption willingness and to scrutinize circumstances and trade-offs that support acceptance or at least tolerance towards CO2 re-use, an integrative empirical methodology is applied. Qualitative methods are applied uncovering hopes, seen benefits as well as human risk perceptions’ or feeling of uncertainty regarding assumed consequences. Decision-processes about a product are simulated using conjoint analyses, thereby identifying the (combination of) positive and negative attitudes that influences respondents’ choices the most. Also, text mining is used to investigate public opinion-building processes in the internet. Which aspects receive attention, and how are they discussed by whom, are studied

Contribution to developing a CO2 re-use market

Technology acceptance is key for the development of a market. What do potential costumers think about CO2 based materials? Are there perceived benefits coming with a product based on CO2? What fears do stakeholders have? The overall goal to turn CO2 into high value products can only be successfully completed when the public acceptance is considered as well as the drivers and the showstoppers in the public perception are understood.

As a psychologist and communication scientist it is exiting to contribute human factors and social science knowledge during technology development.” – Prof. Martina Ziefle

Project duration

2/2016 to 1/2017

Advantages CO2 re-use Disadvantages CO2 re-use

Prof. Dr. Martina Ziefle

Project Lead, Chair of Communication Science, Human-Computer Interaction Center, RWTH Aachen University


Prof. Dr. Eva Maria Jakobs

Project associate, Textlinguistics and Technical Communication, Human-Computer Interaction Center, RWTH Aachen University

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