Wednesday, 30 August 2017

SusChem Switzerland welcomes VIO Chemicals

SusChem Switzerland, SusChem’s Swiss National Technology Platform (NTP), has recently welcomed a new member: VIO Chemicals. As a member of the NTP, VIO Chemicals joins major players in the Swiss Chemical and Life Sciences sector, including INEOS, Lonza, CimArk, ETH Zurich and the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS).

In joining SusChem Switzerland, VIO Chemicals aspires to promote the national chemical industry’s priorities in the European policy agenda, become an integrated member of a European collaborative network of knowledge and competence, and contribute to a dynamic innovation and industrial eco-system as part of the Europe 2020 strategy for an inclusive European economy.

Welcoming VIO Chemicals, Eric Plan, Secretary-General of SusChem Switzerland said:
“SusChem Switzerland is aimed at companies involved in life sciences, particularly chemistry, who want to improve their industrial processes and/or develop their collaboration with other players. With VIO Chemicals, we are happy to welcome a new SME in the SusChem family. The active participation of VIO Chemicals will reinforce our activities and missions in 'Shaping Sustainable Solutions Together'”
VIO Chemicals shares SusChem Switzerland’s vision for a robust and sustainable Swiss chemical industry. According to a recent analysis chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech sectors account for 41% of total national exports. The Swiss growth strategy is largely driven by an emphasis on constant innovation and internationalism. By joining SusChem Switzerland, VIO Chemicals declares its openness to share its expertise and form synergies with national and European stakeholders to promote the use of sustainable chemistry, and joins the debate about the role of the chemical industry as a solutions provider to global societal challenges.

For more information on SusChem Switzerland, please visit the SusChem Switzerland website.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Hurry, hurry for SuperBIO support services

The SuperBIO Horizon 2020 project is getting close to reaching its goal of developing 30 cross-border, cross-sectorial value chains in the biobased economy. The initiative has a target to develop 30 new disruptive biobased value chains together with EU SMEs through provision of 10 different accessible professional innovation services to SMEs at affordable prices.

Established in 2016, SuperBIO has been such a success that, only twelve months into the project, 20 value chains have already been developed. The project expects to reach its goal before the end of the year! New applicants should therefore hurry up to become one of the 10 new value chains that remain to be developed and supported by SuperBIO.

The newly established value chains in SuperBIO are very diverse and include biogas production, food, horticultural and agricultural waste valorisation, bioplastics production, and production of high-value compounds such as crop-protection products, fragrances or food additives.

SuperBIO is a truly Europe-wide project, attracting SMEs from Belgium, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.

You can read some case studies from the project here.

Innovation services
SMEs participating in the value chains can each receive innovation services to a value of €60 000, with 75% of the support funded through the project. The 20 developed value chains are now gaining more insight into feedstock and market information, life-cycle analysis (LCA), techno-economics, regulatory barriers, business planning and access to investors, subsidy strategy, intellectual property (IP) protection, and proof-of-concept or scale-up issues. With its innovation support services, SuperBIO fills a tangible need for EU bioeconomy SMEs and gives them a head start to get closer to their markets.

SuperBIO can only support a limited number of SMEs, but the project still welcomes applications for new value chains from industrial stakeholders. Hurry up and take advantage of this exclusive opportunity to get a boost for your biobased business.

Get in touch with the SuperBIO consortium that consists of 10 expert organisations, all leaders in the biobased economy. SMEs can apply for SuperBIO services via their website.

Learn more about the project in the 'SuperBIO project in two minutes' video.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

BIOKET event to focus on the Bioeconomy emerging KETs

On 6 to 8 March 2018, the IAR - the French Bioeconomy Cluster - is organising BIOKET, the global conference dedicated to the Bioeconomy’s Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). The event will focus on innovative biobased solutions and processes and emphasise innovation in processes for biomass conversion using emerging technologies, minimising waste production and optimising economics. BIOKET will take place in Strasbourg at the Convention Exhibition Centre close to the city centre.

Biomass is a wonderful resource that can be transformed into chemicals, biobased materials, food and feed ingredients or energy. However, adaptation and optimisation of transformation processes and technologies remains a real challenge to fully valorise all biomass fractions in a true circular economy approach.

In the context of the circular economy, the need for an optimal valorisation of renewable resources, and of Industry 4.0 considerations BIOKET will be an excellent opportunity for all experts to discuss and share their experiences with emerging and key enabling technologies for the bioeconomy.

Inspiring programme
An inspiring and targeted conference programme has been developed, which will tackle topics such as advanced and innovative biomass pre-treatment; technologies for biomass conversion and functionalization; extraction, separation and purification of biomass; process modelling and analytical methods and tools; innovative tools; design of bioprocesses, advanced fermentation.

You can download the draft programme here. BIOKET’s main programme topics include:

  • Advanced and innovative biomass pre-treatment – Physical and thermochemical pre-treatment – Densification – Fractionation
  • Technologies for biomass conversion and functionalization
  • Extraction, separation and purification of biomass
  • Process modelling and analytical methods and tools - in situ characterization techniques
  • Innovative tools: Enzymatic and metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and bio-nanotechnology
  • Design of bioprocesses and advanced fermentation
In addition, a vast area of 1 500 square metres will host the BIOKET exhibition area and there will be ample opportunity for networking and finding new biobased business leads.

The BIOKET conference itself takes place on 7 and 8 March with a BBI and Bioeconomy Horizon 2020 project information and Brokerage pre-event scheduled for Tuesday 6 March.

Registration for the conference opens on 3 September, but you can find more information on the BIOKET website, where you can also subscribe to the BIOKET newsletter to receive updates on the event.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Cefic - LRI 2017 programme call closes 31 August!

The Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) is now accepting grant applications, but you will need to be quick as the deadline for applications is 31 August 2017.

The Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme is a major voluntary initiative of the European chemical industry to support the long-term sustainability of its sector and European society. The programme funds work to identify the hazards posed by chemicals and improve the methods available for assessing the associated risks.

The LRI sponsors high-quality research of a standard publishable in a reputable peer-reviewed journal, and seeks to provide sound scientific advice on which industry and regulatory bodies can draw-on to respond quickly and accurately to the public’s concerns.

2017 call
The 2017 call covers research in the following areas:

  • Bioaccumulation potential determination (ECO41)
  • Fate-ecotoxicity testing and risk assessment (ECO42)
  • Sediment toxicity testing refinement (ECO43)
  • Toxicokinetics mammalian modelling (ECO44)
  • Implementing an ecosystem services-based approach to chemical risk assessment: A proof of concept study (ECO45)
  • Improvement of the environmental hazard and risk assessment of cationic polymers (ECO46)
  • Assessment of inhalation and dermal exposure in industrial/professional use (B20)Interpretation of ‘omics (molecular-level interactions data):
  • Development of omics data analysis (C4)
  • Understanding normal adaptation vs pathology and gene expression time dependence (C5)
  • Biological omics read-across (C6)

Further information on project specifications, budget details and application forms can be found on the Cefic-LRI website at:

Only proposals that fit the project specifications and are submitted via the official LRI application form will be considered for funding. For further details, please contact Dr. Bruno Hubesch, LRI Programme Consultant, or the LRI Secretariat via email.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications is 31 August 2017.

A mini-guide to the Cefic-LRI funding and application process can be downloaded here and results from a selection of completed Cefic-LRI projects can be found here.

About Cefic-LRI
The Cefic-LRI programme is all about a responsible approach to assessing the long-term impacts of chemicals.

Public awareness of the potential impact of human activity and man-made substances on the environment and on health is something the chemical industry has long taken seriously. As early as 1996, the need to address societal concerns and help public understanding of the long-term impacts led to the establishment of the Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) programme in the US. Cefic-LRI manages the LRI programme in Europe.

The LRI’s aim is to respond to public and stakeholder concerns through rigorous scientific investigation. In the last 17 years it has become a unique source of knowledge and tools, providing a validated infrastructure of scientific advice available to both the industry and regulatory bodies. In this way, the LRI helps to provide timely and accurate information in response to the public’s questions and concerns.

To help address some of European public health strategy priorities, LRI conducts peer-reviewed transparent research to:
-Improve risk assessment of chemicals and monitor the effects of chemicals on health;
-Understand the environmental factors in human health;
-Establish endocrine disruption references;
-Coordinate research, data and activities at a European level.

LRI also addresses many of the environmental objectives of the EU, including:
-Linking environmental factors to health effects;
-Understanding and reducing chemical risks to environment;
-Improving animal testing in risk assessment.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Can the EU Chemical Industry go Carbon Neutral by 2050?

The chemical industry’s ambition is to play a leading role in the transformation of the European economy to a sustainable low-carbon and circular economy by creating innovative climate and energy friendly solutions, both for its own processes and for many other industries through chemical products. A new report 'Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry' from SusChem founding partners Dechema and released via the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) explores how the chemical industry can become carbon neutral by 2050. 

The Dechema study analyses the technological options available for the chemical industry and outlines the conditions necessary to facilitate the transition of the European chemical industry to carbon neutrality.

As well as giving a first full overview of all available technologies for the main chemical production processes, it describes what is needed to refurbish the industrial base we know today in Europe, in a world of shale gas and low oil prices:
  • Abundant low-carbon electricity in much larger volumes and at competitive prices;
  • Availability of alternative feedstocks (e.g. bio-based raw materials, CO2 or industrial waste gases).
  • An enabling fiscal structure to modernise ageing production facilities and equipment or build new plants;
  • Government or public-private support to scale-up technologies and share investment risk for those technologies that are first of a kind or high risk
  • Innovation and research into new chemical technologies that help overcome these challenges.
  • Enabling business models to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration to find sustainable ways to re-use CO2
Role for SusChem and SPIRE
The report concludes that, in order to achieve the EU’s 2050 objectives, an ambitious research and innovation programme will be essential to improve the potential of required advanced technologies, and public-private-partnership efforts will be critical to enable fast deployment and risk sharing for the investments needed. 

In addition, industrial symbiosis opportunities and sustainable materials recycling options should be further explored in order to improve energy and resource efficiency beyond sectorial boundaries. 

Clearly these areas where SusChem and SPIRE are currently working hard to advance sustainable chemistry and sustainable process industry technologies.

Energy intensive
The chemical industry has already halved its energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, but producing chemicals remains one of the most energy intensive industrial processes. Making the sector carbon neutral while retaining its competitiveness in a full circular economy in Europe is a significant challenge, which cannot be solved by the industry on its own.

In an interview with Politico Energy Marco Mensink, Cefic Director General, said that the fact that the industry is looking at how to cut carbon emissions shows that it’s embracing the need for change, “I think we have always taken the position that we are very energy-intensive and that there are huge challenges to become energy neutral,” he said. “But this is a different stance.” Why? Because the attitude of the sector is changing, because the Paris climate agreement has become a reality, and because time is ticking, he added.

The main findings of the report are that the implementation of the technologies investigated in the study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions in 2050 (up to 210 Mt annually under the maximum scenario). And including the production and use of fuels related to the pathways considered in the study, the additional CO2 abatement potential in 2050 exceeds the chemical sector’s current emissions even under the intermediate scenario.

Commenting on the report, Marco Mensink said: “Many promising low-carbon technologies are available at a relatively advanced stage of development. The industry will need to find the way to overcome the investment, raw material and energy challenges for them to be implemented on a large scale in Europe.” 

Kurt Wagemann, Executive Director of DECHEMA added: “The implementation of the technologies investigated in this study would allow for a very significant reduction of CO2 emissions of the chemical industry by 2050 even under the least ambitious scenario.”

However, such a transition to carbon neutrality will entail huge challenges for the European chemical industry including availability of low carbon energy, availability of alternative feedstock, investments in new assets that far exceed the typical level of investments in the recent years, uncompetitive production costs. 

The report
The report Low carbon energy and feedstock for the European chemical industry looks into technology options and pathway scenarios to ensure a low-carbon, yet competitive European chemical industry by 2050. The study focuses on the main chemical building blocks used in upstream large volume production processes (ammonia, methanol, ethylene, propylene, chlorine and the aromatics benzene, toluene and xylene), which represent about two-thirds of all GHG emissions in the chemical sector.

Friday, 14 July 2017

European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service Final conference

The European Commission and the European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN) invite you to the final conference of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service entitled: 'Boosting regional investments in sustainable chemicals' that is taking place on 14 September in Brussels. The Sustainable Chemicals Support Service initiative was organised by a consortium of Cefic, PNO and CIRCE.

The event aims to present the results of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service initiative 'Six Model demonstrator regions for sustainable chemical production', that was funded by the European Commission. It will feature success stories and best practices from the six regions, selected by the European Commission as 'model demonstrator regions' in Europe for a sustainable chemical industry.

The regions are:

  • Andalusia (Spain)
  • Groningen-Drenthe (The Netherlands)
  • Kosice (Slovakia)
  • Scotland (United Kingdom)
  • South and Eastern Ireland
  • Wallonia (Belgium)

The Conference will also present the publicly available self-assessment tool, developed by the initiative, which aims to support all European regions to assess their investment readiness level to produce chemicals in a sustainable manner.

This event is free of charge and will be held in English.

Sustainable chemicals
The aim of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service initiative was 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 2015 SusChem position paper on Circular Economy.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

SusChem F3 Factory shows synergy of EU Funding

The SusChem flagship F3 Factory project was in the spotlight at the European Commission’s Research and Innovation conference on “Shaping our Future” as an example of how to leverage EU research funding with the use of the Structural Funds. This is one of the key recommendations in the report of the High-Level Group led by Pascal Lamy, released at the conference on 3 July, to launch the debate on the next EU Framework Programme, FP9. Entitled ‘LAB – FAB – APP: investing in the European future we want’, the report delivers a strong message that investing in research and innovation is crucial for the future of Europe in a rapidly globalising world.

To shape our future together, we need to imagine, invent and create. We need research (“Labs”), innovation competitive fabrication (“Fabs”) and applications for the benefit of all (“Apps”). Hence the title of the report: Lab, Fab, App: investing in the future we want.

Launching the report European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas underlined the crucial role of research and innovation for the future by saying: “Without science and innovation there is no growth. Without science and innovation there are no jobs.”

Reacting to the report on behalf of industry, Jean Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay and President of the Cefic council, told the conference: “Together with Commissioner Moedas, we can imagine a new FP9 that nurtures a European-based research, innovation and science ecosystem linked to industry".

F3 Factory success
The SusChem visionary project ‘The F3 Factory’ was highlighted at the conference by Marc Lemaitre, Director-General the Commission’s DG REGIO, as a success story showing how research and innovation projects can be combined with EU structural and investment funding and thus achieve rationalisation of EU funding schemes. This is one of the key recommendations of the LAB-FAB-APP report, echoed at the conference.

This F3 Factory FP7 initiative showed how it was possible “to leverage all assets in Europe” said Lemaitre (speaking above). The €30 million F3 Factory project, implemented between 2009 and 2013, was conceived and developed by a SusChem working group and looked to create the future of [chemical] production. The project was hugely successful in developing new modular production processes.

The German region of Nordrhein-Westfalen was then able to use money from the EU Regional Development Fund, and through its smart specialisation strategy has been able to form a new project in order to bring the F3 Factory concept closer to commercialisation for pharmaceutical processes.

The MoBiDik project scaled-up and validated the F3 Factory results showing a potential 40% reduction in capital costs and a 30% reduction in energy consumption. The work is continuing through the MoBiDik Pro project funded by Bayer.

Double R&I budget
The LAB-FAB-APP impact report focuses on proposing guiding principles for designing the post-2020 EU programme for research and innovation; provisionally entitled FP9. The 11 recommendations of the report aim to maximise the impact of future EU research and innovation programmes and each is exemplified by a key action.

Amongst the 11 recommendations in the report are proposals to double the budget of the post-2020 EU research and innovation programme, foster ecosystems that will promote and invest in innovative ideas with rapid scale-up potential through a European Innovation Council, and modernise the education and training of people for a creative and innovative Europe. Other actions look to further simplify EU R&I funding schemes and instruments, stimulate the involvement of citizens, and communicate the results and impact of EU R&I funding better.

The high level group that produced the report was led by Pascal Lamy, former European Commissioner and President Emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institut, and comprised 11 eminent personalities from research, innovation and education including Martin Bruderm├╝ller, Chief Technology Officer for BASF.