Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Integrated Industrial Water Management: Solutions for Practice

The SusChem-inspired FP7 project ‘Economically and Ecologically Efficient Water Management in the European Chemical Industry’ (E4Water) is holding its final conference on ‘Integrated Industrial Water Management: Solutions for Practice’ on 19 and 20 April 2016 at the offices of the Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU in Brussels.

Water is a key pan-European concern for industry. Despite the vast amount of water on the planet scarce fresh water resources and water stress of aquatic ecosystems are current critical issues in Europe and the world and are the result of a myriad of interacting environmental, political, economic, and social forces. Europe is confronted with urgent challenges related to water: adapting to climate change, including mitigation of floods and droughts risks, achieving good quality of surface water, ensuring adequate availability of water to deliver multiple benefits to nature and to the economy.

The chemical industry is both a major water user and a key solution provider to the sector. It offers significant potential for increasing eco-efficiency in industrial water management in its own sector and also in other industrial sectors.

The conference “Integrated Industrial Water Management: Solutions for Practice” presents new integrated approaches, methodologies and process technologies for a more efficient and sustainable management of water in the chemical industry with cross-fertilization potential to other industrial sectors. The conference programme can be downloaded here.

The event will focus on the results obtained during the E4Water project in terms of best practise for water management and how this can provide challenges and opportunities for the chemical sector from the six case studies that form the core of the E4Water effort. Presentations will include:

  • Innovative materials, process technologies, tools and methodologies for an integrated water management.
  • Open innovation approaches for testing innovative developments with respect to other industries.
  • Industrial case studies, representing critical challenges for the chemical industry and other process industries.
  • Implementation of improved tools for process efficiency optimisation, linking water processes with production processes- and eco-efficiency assessment.

The above examples were all developed and demonstrated in the E4Water project. In addition to multiple exciting presentations related to E4Water developments, keynote presentations will give insights on industry needs and water related strategies and on European Commission activities and strategies. A get together and poster party will give participants the opportunity to discuss E4Water results and to present their own work related to integrated industrial water management. You can download the Call for Posters template document here.

Registration for the conference is open now and is free of charge.

What is E4Water?
With the chemical industry providing the highest potential to demonstrate increased eco-efficiency in industrial water management, the FP7 project ‘Economically and Ecologically Efficient Water Management in the European Chemical Industry’ (E4Water) addresses a range of crucial process needs to overcome bottlenecks and barriers to a fully integrated and energy efficient water management system.

The project’s main objective is to develop and test integrated approaches, methodologies and process technologies. There are six industrial case study sites at the core of E4Water that are expected to achieve a reduction of 20-40% in water use, 30-70% in waste water production, 15-40% in energy use and up to 60% in direct economic benefits. In addition to the chemical industry, the project is actively seeking opportunities for cross-fertilisation with other industrial sectors.

The project consortium brings together large chemical companies, leading European water sector companies and innovative research and technology development centres and universities. The partners are also involved in the Water supply and sanitation Platform (WssTP) and SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry, and actively collaborate with water authorities in different European countries.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

#useCO2 News

Carbon dioxide Capture utilisation (CCU) and carbon storage are certainly hot topics in sustainable chemistry and rarely out of the energy news. Now the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Technologies Information System (SETIS) has devoted a whole issue of its online magazine to the topic including contributions from SusChem and SPIRE.

The January 2016 issue of the SETIS Magazine includes some 20 articles highlighting the many projects and activities on carbon capture utilisation and storage in Europe. Amongst the various contributions from industry and academic experts are two from SusChem and the SPIRE PPP:
SusChem closely follows progress in CO2 utilisation and regularly tweets on developments using the #useCO2 hashtag.

European #useCO2 Events
A couple of important #useCO2 conferences are taking place in Europe during 2016.

Carbon Dioxide Catalysis - Zing Conference on 19 22 April 2016 in the Algarve, Portugal
This conference will showcase the latest advances in the catalytic conversion of CO2. The primary aim of the conference is to gather representatives from the academic and industrial communities to exchange information and ideas, and to find mutual ground for developing new and improved catalytic methods.

International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization (ICCDU XIV) on 11-15 September 2016 in Sheffield UK
The ICCDU is the premier scientific conference on CO2 utilisation research and  provides a multi-disciplinary forum on recent innovations in fundamental and applied aspects of carbon dioxide utilization. There are three broad themes and abstracts are welcome in the following areas by 29 February:
  • CO2 insertion any processes in-which CO2 is inserted i.e. polymerisation, mineralisation.
  • CO2 splitting any process in which CO2 is split, i.e. electrochemistry, plasma, photochemistry.
  • Enabling technologies i.e. carbon capture, LCA, CO2 utilisation in the circular economy, hydrogen production for CO2 utilisation, energy integration, whole systems approaches.
SCOT project
The Smart CO2 Transformation (SCOT) project has launched its Vision for Smart CO2 Transformation in Europe, a long-term Vision for CO2 utilisation that puts forward why Europe should make CCU a priority and accelerate the development of #useCO2 technologies.

The report suggests three core reasons why Europe should accelerate the market development
of its CO2 utilisation sector:
  • CO2 utilisation can be one of the major growth areas in Europe’s future low-carbon circular economy
  • CO2  utilisation can help to facilitate Europe’s energy transition
  • CO2 utilisation can contribute to achieving Europe’s aims for decreasing carbon emissions
The project also has two further events:

How to deal with oil price ups and downs: SCOT & CO2Chem Workshop on 23 March 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany
The significant work on CCU in recent years is being jeopardised by the current depressed fossil fuel price. For successful market implementation, it is crucial for CCU technologies to compete economically, thus the low oil prices are a major barrier for the development of CCU technologies. The goal of the workshop is to describe the current situation and to discuss how CCU can develop constantly and safely within these uncertain framework conditions.

CO2 Utilisation as a Strong Catalyst for the European Industrial Renaissance on 29 June 2016 in Brussels
The final conference of the SCOT FP7 project will present the Research and Development and the regulatory needs that SCOT has identified as levers for the development of CO2 Utilisation. The day will be split in two parts; in the morning, the CO2 recycling community will gather key industrial and academic players in order to discuss the Strategic European Research and Innovation Agenda (SERIA) and the next steps necessary to implement the Joint Action Plan.  In the afternoon, discussion will move to European and regional policy makers and what can be done from a policy perspective to allow the industrial deployment of these technologies.

About CO2Chem
The information provided in this blog is supplied by the CO2Chem network that brings together academics, industrialists and policy makers over a wide range of disciplines to consider the utilisation of carbon dioxide as a single carbon chemical feedstock for the production of value added products. Network activities are geared towards the founding of strong cross-disciplinary research clusters that will lead research in this increasingly important area.
A calendar of forthcoming events covering carbon dioxide utilisation (#useCO2) topics can be found on the CO2Chem Website.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Save the date: Industrial Technologies - Creating a Smart Europe June 22-24

The Netherlands Presidency of the European Union will be hosting the European Conference Industrial Technologies 2016 to be held from 22 to 24 June 2016 at the RAI Conference Centre in Amsterdam.

Industrial Technologies 2016 will be the largest networking conference in the field of new production technologies, materials, nanotechnology, biotechnology and digital technologies in Europe with more than 1 250 high level delegates expected.

The conference's advisory board includes a number of SusChem stakeholders - not least SusChem's Chairman of the Board Dr Klaus Sommer.

"Innovation is the basis of Europe’s competitiveness. In particular piloting and demonstration facilities are important to bridge the gap between research and competitive business," says Dr Sommer. "New technologies play a key role in this effort, signified by e.g. the focus on Key Enabling Technologies."

"Europe would benefit from a stronger sense of community between innovation and technology players. The conference is a great opportunity to network but also to emphasize the importance together with the European Commission," concludes Dr. Sommer.

Creating a Smart Europe
The three day conference will bring together personalities involved in research, industry, education, finance and policy activities from  manufacturing and process industry and technology domains from all over Europe to identify priorities that are crucial to strengthen the European industrial innovation ecosystem and deliver ‘A Smart Europe’.

Reasons to attend include:
  • Inspiring keynotes and eye-opening site visits
  • Interaction to identify priorities for the policy agenda
  • Networking with European players in research, industry, finance and policy
Registration is now open and 'early bird' fees will apply until 15 April.

A provisional schedule for the conference is available. To keep up to date with developments for the conference visit the conference website and subscribe to the conference newsletter. You can also follow the conference on Twitter via @IndTech16.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Date for your diary: SusChem Stakeholder Event 2016 will be on 16 June!

SusChem is proud to announce that its 2016 Stakeholder event will take place on
Thursday, 16 June from 09:00 to 17:00 at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels, Belgium.

Mark the date in your diary now! As usual attendance at the event will be free of charge for all SusChem stakeholder, but registration will be required.

More details will be published soon on the SusChem website. In the meantime if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the SusChem Secretariat.

Six Model EU Regions to lead way towards Sustainable Chemical Industry

The European Commission has selected six 'model regions' to lead the way towards a sustainable EU chemical industry. The announcement (on 26 January 2016) of the selection of the six model regions in the field of sustainable chemicals production kicks off the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service which met for the first time this week. And Cefic and SusChem will be helping to deliver support to the selected regions.

The six 'model demonstrator regions' in Europe are Andalusia (Spain), Groningen-Drenthe (The Netherlands), Kosice (Slovakia), Scotland (United Kingdom), South and Eastern Ireland (Ireland) and Wallonia (Belgium).

The regions have been selected from 28 applicants from EU regions, and will receive advisory support from the 'European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service' (ESCS) – a consortium led by the European Commission and CIRCE (the Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption). Cefic and SusChem will work with CIRCE and other partners to provide support to the six selected regions.

The aim of the initiative is to encourage investments in sustainable chemicals production in Europe that will contribute to the development of the circular economy, for example by taking advantage of domestically available feedstock such as biomass, waste or CO2.

Cefic and SusChem have been very supportive of collaboration within and between chemical regions based on concepts such as Industrial Symbiosis. This was demonstrated by Cefic-SusChem participation in the Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R) FP7 project and expressed in the SusChem position paper on Circular Economy (see below). Participation in this tender continues and expands this support.

Call background
In a call for the expression of interest in September 2015, the Commission asked for applications from regional organisations interested in developing ambitious strategies to support sustainable chemicals in Europe. The final aim is to attract new investments in industrial projects in the chemicals sector, thereby also contributing to the industry policy objective of raising the GDP share of manufacturing in Europe. The call also intended to lead to further development of coherent policies, such as those related to the circular economy and low carbon economy, industrial symbiosis as well as removing investment bottlenecks.

The applications submitted clearly show the commitment of many regions in Europe to move towards circular economy and low carbon economy models, by using renewable resources for chemicals production. Experiences from the initiative will be shared with other interested European regions, to boost cooperation between the chemicals sector and other sectors, like agriculture, forestry, energy intensive industries, waste management and recycling.

SusChem and the circular economy
Since its inception in 2004 SusChem has inspired numerous research and innovation activities that address major European societal issues. SusChem’s solutions are based on sustainable enabling technologies developed by the chemical industry and its partners in academia, research and technology organisations, and other industrial players from a wide variety of different value-chains and sectors. Many of these technologies are essential to the implementation of a sustainable circular economy.

In October 2015 SusChem published a position paper on the Circular Economy. You can download the paper here.

The paper has three main messages:

A sustainability-based approach is needed
The integration of all aspects of sustainability is essential to the development of a circular economy in order to effectively ensure a positive impact on society while minimising environmental impact and maintaining economic growth.

Technology development is required for a sustainable circular economy
A circular economy cannot be achieved only through implementation of new regulations, services and business models.  Advanced technologies are essential to enable a better use of existing resources along the whole life cycle to develop new production and recycling paths – and the expertise of the chemical industry as a material supplier is highly valuable and important here. In particular SusChem believes that the principle technology developments should take place in the following three areas:
  • Utilisation of sustainable alternative feedstock including  secondary raw materials, ligno-cellulosic biomass, waste or CO2 from industrial flue gases. 
  • Design of sustainable materials enabling eco design of ‘products’ that are easy to recycle while maintaining or improving performance.
  • Improved efficiency for production processes to maximise the use of all resources entering the system including primary and secondary raw materials, water, and energy.
These technologies are more fully described in the SusChem’s 2015 Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) and should be supported through the appropriate European funding instruments.

Coherence and stability over time for the policy framework is critical for European leadership
To contribute fully to a sustainable economy, the circular economy policy should be developed in coordination with other related policies such as the Energy Union Package. Policy coherence, as well as policy stability over time, is essential to establish a regulatory framework that enables investment in sustainable, resource efficient and innovative technologies in Europe and ensures European leadership in sustainable/clean technologies.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Launching a Pact for Innovation at 7EIS

Hosted by Knowledge4Innovation, the 7th European Innovation Summit took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 7–10 December. With everyone from young entrepreneurs and students to European Commissioners and MEPs in attendance, the stage was set for exciting discussions on how Europe can bridge the innovation gap. Cefic co-organised a Breakfast debate on ‘Advanced materials and breakthrough opportunities for the energy transition’ at the event. Science writer Ben Skuse reports.

More than 1 500 delegates, including more than 50 MEPs, attended 2015’s European Innovation Summit (7EIS), offering a unique opportunity for stakeholders across the spectrum to get together and discuss the key challenges and opportunities for Europe to capitalise on its innovation potential, increase its competitiveness and help solve global problems.

Alongside the cross-sector, cross-disciplinary themes discussed throughout 7EIS’s plenary sessions and coffee breaks, a number of more targeted debates took place at the event. These offered the chance to hear sector-specific challenges and opportunities from leading stakeholders in each field. Critical topics including industry, environment, agriculture, bio-economy, health, transport, safety and security, quantum computing, the role of regions and cities, and energy were all debated through dedicated sessions.

Advanced materials, competitive economy
The latter – energy – was the focus of Cefic’s co-organised Breakfast debate entitled ‘Advanced materials and breakthrough opportunities for the energy transition’ on 8 December. Dedicated to how the chemical industry can contribute to enabling Europe make the transition to a competitive, sustainable low-carbon economy through innovation, the session was hosted by MEP Professor Jerzy Buzek with presentations from key policy makers and industry representatives including Cefic Executive Director for Research and Innovation Pierre Barthélemy.

Introducing the debate Prof. Buzek stressed the need for an innovative leap, in which development of advanced material would be very important, to enable change in the way we make and use energy.  Rudolph Strohmeier, Deputy Director General at the European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation (below) agreed describing the Commission’s “two-sided approach with the Energy Union and SET plan and the Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) initiative - that includes advanced materials - to achieve a real energy revolution.”

Pierre Barthélemy highlighted the chemical industry’s responsibility to contribute to energy issues along the entire value chain and called for further EU support for technology development activities but also for the deployment of novel technologies. For example, central talking points included the chemical industry’s role in providing lightweight materials offering improved energy efficiency for the transport, construction and industry sectors described by Christian Collette of Arkema. While advanced materials for key energy technologies, such as energy storage, solar cells and wind turbines, and new materials for carbon capture and use as fuels or chemical energy storage were highlighted by Peter Nagler of Evonik.

The debate went well beyond advanced materials, turning to wider energy-related concerns, as Cefic Innovation Manager and SusChem Secretary Jacques Kormorniki illuminates: “There were excellent statements and discussions around the topic of energy during the Breakfast debate. This aligns with what we try to do in the SET-Plan and SusChem’s Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda – to have a global view of the energy issues.”

For example Martin Winter from Clariant claimed that advances in chemical catalysis to 2050, particularly for the synthesis of ammonia, could save energy equivalent to the current consumption of Germany and boost the global fight against hunger.

A Pact for Innovation
Although highly diverse, all the sessions and subjects were linked by the common goal of providing an environment in which Europe’s young innovators can be creative, expand their businesses and compete in the global economy. And nowhere was this theme more evident than in the official launch of the Pact for Innovation (INPACT) during the Summit’s opening ceremony on 7 December.

INPACT aims to create a space for innovation stakeholders and European institutions to meet and collaborate, in order to tackle key issues at the local, national and regional levels that hinder excellence in innovation. In essence, it will provide platforms for Europe’s innovators in all sectors to communicate with policy makers in a meaningful way.

Further, the Pact will focus on introducing and optimising favourable conditions for innovators to operate in and will lay the foundations for the next generation to be able to take risks. “A stronger EU-wide commitment is needed, and that’s why we’ve come forward with this Pact for Innovation, not just another reformulation of the overall [innovation] strategy between the key European institutions – we strive for a stronger, less institution-centric and firmer dialogue with all stakeholders,” stated Lambert van Nistelrooij, Chair, K4I Forum Governing Board, during his address.

The launch of INPACT was warmly welcomed by European Commissioner for Research Carlos Moedas at the opening ceremony (see box below).

Open Innovation 2.0
Offering a basis for INPACT to succeed, another strong theme pervading the conference was Open Innovation 2.0. Based on a Quadruple Helix Model, involving government, industry, academia and civil stakeholders, Open Innovation 2.0 calls for all actors to co-create the future through networking, collaboration, corporate entrepreneurship, proactive intellectual property management and R&D.

 “To use an analogy, we need multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary models of innovation with all stakeholders, all disciplines, all levels of technology readiness in a boiling kettle with the public authorities providing the kettle, the fire and ensuring the soup has all the right ingredients,” explains Bror Salmelin, Innovation Systems Adviser at the European Commission, DG CONNECT, and co-creator of the Open Innovation 2.0 paradigm. “And then we have the chefs who know how to cook it and how to grab onto the results – these are entrepreneurs, large or small.”

“Innovation is not a linear process any more, it is not science-based excellence, it’s about creating a lot of collisions, igniting new ideas that can be prototyped in a real-world setting very quickly, with the end-user there to say what is working and not,” Salmelin concludes.

Enabling innovators to innovate
Key to a meaningful dialogue between Europe’s innovators and policy makers, and introducing Open Innovation 2.0 to the current and next generation of innovators, will be engaging youth.

A number of young innovators were in attendance at 7EIS to offer their perspective of the innovation environment in Europe. During the parallel session ‘The next generation: mobility, jobs and entrepreneurship’, policy makers, academics and entrepreneurs shared their experiences with an eclectic crowd, including Govinda Upadhyay, 2015 EIT CHANGE award winner and founder of educational solar LED lamp startup LED safari. “It’s really good to see how people are working in the innovation direction at the European Union level, but I wish that this could be on a much more grand scale,” he explained after the session. “I am sure that if the policy makers took more initiative for young entrepreneurs in terms of market, funding, really encouraging them, it would be very beneficial.”

Another speaker at the session Tobias Bahnemann, co-founder of groundbreaking 3D sensor startup Toposens, shared Upadhyay’s tentatively positive sentiment: “The policy makers are listening to the problems and wishes of young entrepreneurs here definitely, but we will have to wait a few years to see if any changes have been made as a result.”

Support for the innovators

But perhaps entrepreneurs will not have to wait so long: “I would like to see Europe go further and faster towards open innovation,” stated European Commissioner Carlos Moedas in his foreword to the 7EIS programme.

During his speech at the Summit’s opening ceremony, Moedas went on to outline how he wishes to achieve a better innovation ecosystem. He explained how INPACT aligns perfectly with his idea of building a European Innovation Council to support innovators in the same way that the European Research Council boosts scientific discovery: “I was looking at the Pact for Innovation and I saw four key words that I think are essential […]. The first is careers, the second is refocus, the third is citizens and the fourth is future [… ]. Careers, yes: we have to streamline instruments, we have to get people in Europe to know where to go when they come to us. Refocus, yes: the European Innovation Council is all about refocus[ing]. Citizens, yes: it’s about how you get these new innovators to get on board. And the last point, future generation: […] how you transform curricula from a very young age to the Master’s level. And all this is about how you can get a bottom-up experience for innovators.”
“I would like to see Europe go further and faster towards open innovation,” – Carlos Moedas

Friday, 22 January 2016

Biobased innovation wins Climate and Environment award

German chemical company Clariant has been awarded the 2015 German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment (Der Deutsche Innovationspreis für Klima und Umwelt - IKU) for its innovative sunliquid technology. This biotechnological process produces cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues and was awarded first place in the Process Innovations category winning against 14 other competing technologies.

The sunliquid technology convinced a jury of independent experts from business, science, media and politics chaired by Professor Klaus Töpfer. Biofuels and biobased chemicals made from agricultural residues such as wheat straw are produced sustainably and economically using this process without competing with food or feed production. Cellulosic ethanol made with sunliquid® technology is ground-breaking for climate and environmental protection.

“Clariant is continually investing in the development of sustainable products from renewable raw materials and in the exploration of innovative biotechnologies such as sunliquid. This pioneering process has great potential for the production of environmentally compatible biofuels and a multitude of biobased raw materials that are suitable for various specialty products, such as those of the cosmetic industry,” said Clariant CEO Hariolf Kottmann.

“Biofuels from agricultural residues play a key role in making mobility more sustainable worldwide. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by up to 95% compared with fossil fuels. The award from the Federal Ministry validates our approach,” added Andre Koltermann, Head of Group Biotechnology at Clariant pictured above (second left) receiving the award from Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (second right) and Holger Lösch, member of the BDI Executive Board (far right) with Markus Rarbach, Head Start-up Business Project Biofuels & Derivatives at Clariant (far left).

Innovative sustainable chemistry
The award highlights the chemical sector as a truly high-technology industry at the forefront of sustainable innovation. SusChem welcomes this prestigious German Innovation Prize going to innovative and sustainable chemistry. SusChem is committed to addressing societal challenges via a sustainability based approach (simultaneously addressing the needs of the 3Ps – people planet and profit) using innovative. This commitment is clear from the programmes and initiatives outlined in our Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

“The 2015 German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment warded to Clariant for its innovative sunliquid technology is another very good example that demonstrates the chemical industry’s commitment to addressing our grand societal challenges by investing in sustainable products derived from renewable raw material,” says Martin Winter, SusChem Innovation Manager at Cefic.

“Innovative biotechnologies at the forefront of innovation such as Clariant’s advanced sustainable sunliquid biofuel enable up to 95% savings in greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, it will contribute significantly to the decarbonisation of the transport sector without competing with food or feed resources.”

Sunlight technology
This is the fifth time that the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) have awarded innovative projects focused on climate and environmentally friendly processes, products and services. The winning selections resulted from a profound technical analysis of all the applications by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI). The award ceremony with Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and Holger Lösch, member of the BDI Executive Board, took place at the ministry in Berlin. The award comes with a cash prize of €25 000.

You can learn more about Clariant’s sunlight technology on the company’s website and in the video below.