Friday, 30 January 2015

Innovative technologies and robust policies needed for CRM substitution in Europe

The SusChem inspired FP7 project CRM_InnoNet is organising its third Strategic Innovation Network workshop in Brussels on 11 February 2015. This workshop will showcase Europe’s innovative projects and substitution technologies for critical raw materials (CRM) that can be applied to different strategic sectors such as energy, transport, ICT and electronics. 

The objective of the workshop is to discuss and exchange ideas on the strategy and steps that Europe will need to follow in the near future to tackle the supply risk to critical raw materials. Securing availability and access to critical raw materials constitutes a strategic objective for the EU political and economic agenda. Key EU industrial sectors that depend on access to critical raw materials, such as automotive, machinery, chemicals, aerospace and construction, provide a total added value of €1,324 billion and 30 million jobs for Europe.

Essential elements
Critical raw materials such as rare earth elements are essential to industrial production, particularly for clean energy options such as wind turbines, solar cells, electric vehicles and energy-efficient lighting. The scarcity of critical raw materials, together with their economic importance, makes it very important to explore new avenues towards substitution in order to reduce the EU’s consumption and decrease the relative dependence upon imports.

The main topics to be addressed at the workshop include substitution technologies related to critical raw materials in:
  • Permanent Magnets
  • Catalysts 
  • Electronics
  • Photonics
Following two very successful workshops in 2013 and 2014, this will be the project’s final innovation network workshop and is open to all stakeholders involved in the critical raw materials value chain and willing to exchange ideas and visions for enhancing the competitiveness of EU research, development and innovation, industry and economy in the area of substitution of Critical Raw Materials. A flyer for the event can be downloaded here and the event agenda is available here.

The event is taking place at the Diamant Conference and Business Centre in Brussels. Registration for the workshop is free and is open now. For more information on this event, please contact PNO consultants, Dr. Nader Akil.

Public consultation
In addition the project has just launched a Public Consultation on the Roadmaps for Substitution of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs). CRM_InnoNet  has developed Research and Innovation Roadmaps for five applications, which are most likely under threat from CRM related supply bottlenecks. These are:
  • Electric Motor & Drives
  • Batteries & Accumulators
  • High-value Alloys
  • Photonics including High-end Optics
  • Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) and Electronic Components
These roadmaps have been elaborated in consultation with external experts capturing options and timelines for substituting critical raw materials up to the year 2030. The project is now inviting feedback on the roadmaps as final validation stage before publication for the first three themes above (Electric motors and drives, batteries and accumulators, and high-value alloys). Consultation on the roadmaps for the themes photonics and PCBs will be launched later in the year.

The consultation including the roadmap drafts can be accessed via the CRM_InnoNet website and the closing date for feedback on the first three topics is Friday 27 February 2015.

If you have any questions on the consultation process, please contact the CRM_InnoNet secretariat.

What is the CRM_InnoNet Innovation Network?
The CRM_InnoNet Innovation Network is a proactive and dynamic network of key stakeholders from industry, academia and other organisations interested in the substitution of critical raw materials. The network provides an identity and focus for researchers and businesses with an interest in substitution, drawing together a community which contains representatives from different disciplines and sectors together with a focus on substitution for the first time.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Save the date: BIO-TIC Final Conference 23 June

The SusChem inspired FP7 BIO-TIC project will be holding its final conference entitled ‘From bugs to business! Unlocking the Bioeconomy in Europe’ on the afternoon of 23 June 2015 in central Brussels. The conference will provide all you need to know about industrial biotechnology (IB) in Europe in one compact and easily digestible event. It will be the place for you to embark on the bioeconomy journey! Registration will be open soon and will be free of charge.

The conference: ‘From bugs to business! Unlocking the Bioeconomy in Europe’ will start at 14.00 and will close at 18.00 with a networking cocktail reception. The full programme will be confirmed soon but will consist of two parts:

  • Part 1: Setting the scene - which will use case studies gathered during the project to illustrate the state of industrial biotechnology in Europe today
  • Part 2: Making industrial biotechnology happen – during which expert panel sessions will focus on how the recommendations that have emerged from the work of BIO-TIC can be implemented

The half-day conference will enable you to:

  • Learn about the opportunities provided by this key enabling technology
  • Witness the state of play of industrial biotechnology in Europe with keynote speeches from companies and government bodies
  • Engage in discussions during dedicated panel debates on the implementation of recommendations to build a booming industrial biotechnology sector and the European bioeconomy
  • Discuss with policy makers, industrial players, entrepreneurs and academia during the networking cocktail
  • Explore industrial biotechnology products and tools in the exhibition space

In addition on the following day (24 June) there will be an opportunity for delegates to visit the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant facility in Ghent.

More details of the conference will be published on the conference website and the twitter hashtag #bioeconomy4EU has been created for the event.

IB for development
As well as examining the potential for the impact of industrial biotechnology in Europe, the BIO-TIC final links in with the focus for the European Year of Development (EYD2015) during the month of June, which is ‘Sustainable Green Growth, Decent Jobs and Businesses.’

The green economy and the bioeconomy have particular relevance for developing countries, as many are vulnerable to external shocks such as climate change, natural disasters or food and fuel crises. Sustainable green growth should be able to simultaneously alleviate poverty, protect the natural environment and ensure decent work with labour rights and standards, social protection and social dialogue all upheld.

Businesses are job creators and lead innovation and change, they are key to ensuring decent work and forging responsible and sustainable development. At the end of the day, development is about making investment and economic activity work for everyone, while also protecting our planet.

This ethos is very much at the heart of what SusChem and projects like BIO-TIC are striving to enable.

This conference marks the final stage of the BIO-TIC project. BIO-TIC was launched in 2012 with the vision to investigate hurdles and critical success factors to deploy industrial biotechnology in Europe. Find out more at the project’s website.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Want to work for SusChem?

Are you interested in sustainable chemistry, research and innovation, and want to hone your communication skills in the capital of Europe? SusChem is looking for an intern based within the Research and Innovation team at Cefic (the European Chemical Industry Council) in Brussels. Don’t delay – apply today!

We are looking for highly motivated individuals with excellent spoken and written English to manage or help with various projects relating to resource and energy efficiency, water, raw materials, biotechnology, smart cities, innovation for growth and sustainable chemistry.

The work will be varied and could include EU project communication, publishing (via the web, print and social media), research and analysis including copywriting; drafting and publishing documents or blog posts, coordinating online-based communications projects, and events communication support. We might even let you write articles for SusChem News!

The successful applicant will work with colleagues in the Research and Innovation team and report to the R&I Communication Manager.

Your profile
Applicants should have excellent spoken and written English, be able to synthesize and translate complex issues into clear and concise messages and be very well-organised, able to exercise initiative and organize work under strict deadlines with the ability to set priorities, strong analytical skills an asset.

We are looking for strong interpersonal skills, a self-starter with a flexible approach, ready to adjust priorities and be available when needed to tackle urgent requests. You should also be highly computer literate; familiar with MS Office and social media. An operational knowledge of web content management systems and related Internet tools, and/or elements of design, video editing tools and basic knowledge of publishing software(s) are all also assets we can use. And, of course, you should be strongly motivated with a high amount of individual initiative and enjoy working in a multicultural team.

Please send your application (a short motivation letter plus your curriculum vitae of no more than two pages) to Esther Agyeman-Budu, Communication Manager, Avenue E. Van Nieuwenhuyse 4, B-1160 Brussels with cc to Gert Roelandt, Human Resources Manager.

For more details of the role visit the Cefic website.

The communications department in Cefic has a rolling programme of internships for communications students reaching the end of their studies and young communications graduates. Cefic, the forum and voice of the chemical industry in Europe, is the largest European trade group in Brussels and offers valuable and rewarding work experience in a welcoming, stimulating multicultural team.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Names of First SPIRE projects announced

The names of the successful projects under the first Horizon 2020 calls for the SPIRE PPP have been announced. The first four SPIRE calls, published with the first Horizon 2020 calls on 11 December 2013, inspired a broad participation from a wide spectrum of process industry sectors and have resulted in grant awards to 13 projects under the SPIRE initiative.

In total 123 different organisations from 20 countries participated in the first four SPIRE PPP calls in 2014. The 13 selected projects will be co-funded by the EU and are all in the process of launching.

For SPIRE’s four calls 72 proposals were received of which 68 were deemed eligible. The evaluation of the proposals first looked at the potential ‘impact’ of the project, then the overall scientific ‘excellence’ and then the ‘SME budget’. To score highly under ‘impact’ proposals needed to focus on how society would benefit from the project rather than exclusively on the research “nuts and bolts”. All the projects also needed to be able to demonstrate high levels of interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial activities.

The project proposals also should have included a clear exploitation or business plan and outline ideas to tie into other funding for, for example, demonstration activities through regional smart specialisation would be useful.

Successful projects
A complete list of the acronyms of the granted projects are given below under the relevant SPIRE call. Further details for all the projects should be available soon.

SPIRE – 1 Integrated Process Control
  • RECOBA - Cross-sectorial real-time sensing, advanced control and optimisation of batch processes saving energy and raw materials
  • ProPAT - Robust and affordable process control technologies for improving standards and optimizing industrial operation
  • DISIRE - Integrated Process Control based on Distributed In-Situ Sensors in Raw Material and Energy Feedstock
  • CONSENS - Integrated Control and Sensing for Sustainable Operation of Flexible Intensified Processes
  • iCspec - 
SPIRE–2 Adaptable industrial processes allowing the use of renewables as flexible feedstock for chemical and energy applications
  • SteamBIO - Flexible Superheated Steam Torrefaction and Grinding of Indigenous Biomass from Remote Rural Sources to Produce Stable Densified Feedstocks for Chemical and Energy Applications
  • MefCO2 - Synthesis of methanol from captured carbon dioxide using surplus electricity
  • MOBILE FLIP - Mobile and Flexible Industrial Processing of Biomass
SPIRE-3 Improved downstream processing of mixtures in process industries
  • PRODIAS - Processing Diluted Aqueous Systems
SPIRE-4 Methodologies, tools and indicators for cross-sectorial sustainability assessment of energy and resource efficient solutions in the process industry
  • STYLE - Sustainability Toolkit for easy Life-cycle Evaluation
  • SAMT - Sustainability Assessment methods and tools to support decision-making in the process industries
  • MEASURE - Metrics for Sustainability Assessment in European Process Industries
In addition a fifth call was made jointly between SPIRE and the Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB) PPP and resulted in one successful project.

EE-18-2014  New technologies for utilization of heat recovery in large industrial systems, considering the whole energy cycle from heat production to transformation, delivery and end use
  • TASIO -
Second SPIRE call deadline
Four SPIRE calls and one joint SPIRE call are currently open – but the deadlines for submissions of proposals is fast approaching.

Four SPIRE calls are subject to a one-stage selection process with the deadline for submission being 4 February 2015. The calls are:
And finally a joint call between SPIRE and the Innovative, Sustainable and Inclusive Bioeconomy (ISIB) research theme of Horizon 2020 is a two-stage selection process with the deadline for submission to the first stage on 3 February 2015. Details of the call can be found here:
More about SPIRE
The Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) is a contractual Public Private Partnership (PPP) dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency enabled by the process industries in Europe. The SPIRE Partnership is based on Article 19 of the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, and was established through a contractual arrangement between the European Commission and A.SPIRE aisbl representing industrial and other stakeholders.

SPIRE is being implemented through competitive calls under the Horizon 2020 work programmes. SPIRE will develop enabling technologies and value-chain solutions to reach long-term sustainability for Europe in terms of global competitiveness, ecology and employment. For more information visit the SPIRE website or contact the A.SPIRE aisbl secretariat.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Rebel thinkers required!

Are you a rebel thinker? Do you have a good idea for novel research in human health or environmental risk assessment? Then you can help your ideas come alive with the Cefic-LRI Innovative Science Award 2015. But be quick - the closing date for applications is 17 March 2015.

The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), in conjunction with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), the Federation of Toxicologists and European Societies of Toxicology (EUROTOX), the International Society of Exposure Scientists (ISES) and global chemicals news organisation IHS Chemical Week, is offering a €100,000 award to support promising new research in the field of novel use of surrogate data to assess apical endpoints in human health and/or environmental risk assessment. But you must apply by 17 March 2015!

Apical endpoints are empirically verifiable outcomes of exposure, such as developmental anomalies, breeding behaviours, impaired reproduction, physical changes and alterations in the size and histopathology of organs etc. These gross changes observed in-vivo can offer evidence of toxicity for a substance being studied.

The award judges will be looking for new approaches and techniques that, in addressing the challenges of assessing chemical risks, will enhance our understanding of the causes of adverse effects. 

These could include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • Techniques to combine different types of existing information on similar chemical(s);
  • The use of predictive computational modelling such as Quantitative Structure Activity Relationships (QSARs);
  • Novel non-animal toxicology testing, for example in-vitro and/ or high-throughput screening assays.

The objective of the Cefic-LRI Award is to stimulate innovative research, "out-of-the-box" thinking and new approaches which will advance the environmental assessment of hazardous substances.

The Cefic-LRI Innovative Science Award was established in 2004 to inspire highly innovative and industry relevant projects in biomedical toxicology and ecotoxicology led by promisingly early career scientists. The prize of € 100 000 has been awarded annually ever since; boosting the careers of eleven younger European scientists in the challenging fields with which LRI is engaged.

Who can apply? 
The award is intended for a European-based scientist with less than ten years of research experience after their doctoral degree. Active involvement in interdisciplinary research, their current academic track record, and access to appropriate networks will be considered in the selection of the finalists. 

Valid entries submitted by end-of-play on 17 March will be assessed by a panel of judges to select three finalists, who will be invited to present their ideas in Brussels on 1 June 2015, where the ultimate winner will be decided.

For more details on the Cefic-LRI award and how to apply, please visit the awards webpage.

What is LRI?
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. Through the programme we hope 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.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

SusChem wishes you all the very best for 2015!

Best wishes for a prosperous and sustainable 2015 from the SusChem team! 2014 was a great year for SusChem and we are looking forward to even more success in 2015.

A date for your 2015 agenda is the SusChem Stakeholder event that will take place on 8 and 9 June in Brussels.

And early in the New Year will see the official publication of the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). This will set out SusChem’s research and innovation priorities for the medium term under Horizon 2020 and other funding European, national and regional programmes. We expect the document to add value to the societal, scientific and industrial debate in Europe and help all SusChem stakeholders to concentrate on the significant challenges that we all face.

Keep in touch in 2015
There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with SusChem activities. As well as this news blog you can follow SusChem on Twitter (we already have almost 1500 followers - it would be great to pass this target early in 2015) and don’t forget to ‘like’ the platform on Facebook. You can find the SusChem Facebook page here.

And, of course, the SusChem website is full of information on our activities.

We look forward to a great 2015 for sustainable chemistry in Europe – and hope to see you at one of our events during the year!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Opinion: CO2 Conversion Technologies “No one size fits all”

CO2 conversion is set to play a critical role in the future for manufacturing and renewable energy storage. Pierre Barthelemy of Cefic Research and Innovation discusses what this means for a sustainable European chemical industry.

The utilisation of CO2 as a feedstock by the European chemical industry could develop into a key solution to reduce the use of fossil feedstock, reduce the EU’s dependence on imports of fossil resources, and improve the security of supply of carbon-based feedstock.

CO2 conversion is set to play a very important role in the future, not just for manufacturing chemicals but also for renewable energy storage.   Unfortunately the fragmentation of know-how and activities across Europe is a barrier to the fast development and uptake of CO2 conversion technologies.

CO2 is widely available, sometimes in localised and relatively concentrated streams, for example industrial flue gases, yet its conversion into higher value chemicals or fuels is challenging.  The very high thermodynamic stability of CO2 is a technical intrinsic hurdle that justifies the wide range of customised options being investigated worldwide by the scientific and industrial communities.

Biotech innovation and CO2 bioconversion
Funded by the European Commission, the BIO-TIC FP7 project was launched to develop an overview of the barriers to biotech innovation and to identify solutions to overcome these barriers. As part of this objective, several online surveys and stakeholder consultations have been conducted. One interesting finding from an online survey that preceded the recent BIOTIC Workshop on CO2 bioconversion confirmed the common view that chemical conversion of CO2 is a more mature technology compared to CO2 bioconversion technologies; respondents see chemical catalysis as the main CO2 conversion technology by 2020 but expect that bioconversion (especially using microalgae and fermentation) would become the main CO2 conversion technologies by 2030.  The most advanced biotechnological (bio-electrochemical conversion of CO2 and artificial photosynthesis) are promising in the long term but are currently at low technology readiness levels (TRL).

CO2 conversion technologies: “no one size fits all”
Due to the variety of CO2 sources and different requirements and limitations of the various CO2 conversion technologies, one may actually expect coexistence of various conversion routes, each of them representing an optimised solution to a specific situation.   In fact, hybrid solutions combining bioconversion and chemical catalysis for different steps in the entire process (purification, conversion, downstream processing) could enlarge the portfolio of options to solve the economic and technical equations for a given situation.

There is a significant amount of know-how in Europe on CO2 conversion technologies overall, however only a few projects are currently emerging at the pilot or demonstration scale level.   For CO2 bioconversion, all the emerging success stories are US-based.
The recent BIO-TIC workshop on CO2 bioconversion has provided more insight on the hurdles and possible solutions for the use of CO2 as a feedstock for industrial biotechnology processes, which is now being integrated in the final BIO-TIC roadmaps.  The latter will be available for public consultation early in the New Year.

SusChem’s contribution to CO2 conversion technologies
CO2 conversion technologies in general—including chemical catalysis processes— feature in the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) that will also be published at the beginning of 2015. The SIRA addresses the challenges of CO2 conversion via both chemical and biotechnology routes and identifies a series of research and innovation actions that will move the field forward. In addition to efficient conversion processes these actions include sustainable technologies to recover CO2 from flue gases and the integration of renewable energy and efficient technologies for H2 production.

For more information please contact Pierre Barthelemy at Cefic, read the SusChem blog or visit the SusChem website. One of the SusChem twitter account's areas of interest is news and information on CO2 capture and utilisation (CCU) using the hashtag #useCO2 to highlight tweets on the subject.