Thursday, 20 October 2016

Commission launches public survey on Horizon 2020

The European Commission is inviting researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators to share their views on the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme via a new public consultation launched today (20 October). The public survey will run until mid-January 2017 and there is also a separate consultation on Euratom, the nuclear research and training programme funded under Horizon 2020. In addition some early hints on the orientation for the next EU research and innovation programme have been made.

The consultation, which should take no more than 20 minutes to complete, is part of a broad Commission initiative on the Horizon 2020 mid-term review that will evaluate the achievements of the €72 billion, seven-year Horizon 2020 programme so far and recommend any “course corrections” that could increase its impact through the last calls.

The results of the consultation will also feed into planning for Horizon 2020’s successor programme (aka ‘FP9’) for 2021 and beyond. The Commission will publish a summary of views from the consultation by mid-2017.

The Commission is also gathering views on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology until 20 November and a consultation on public-public and public-private partnerships under Horizon 2020 will also be launched in the near future.

Bohemia for FP9
The European Commission has launched the Bohemia Study, a foresight exercise aiming to ensure the next EU research programme (FP9) is equal to the challenges of the 2030s. The study taskforce will consult with stakeholders and sketch out which emerging technologies and new fields of research should be funded.

“We have asked experts to do a stock take of the different foresight studies by the likes of the OECD and the World Bank,” Robert Jan-Smits, Director-General for Research at the European Commission last week.

The foresight exercise, which will be completed in the second part of 2017 is led by Matthias Weber of the Austrian Institute of Technology. The group has started to work on two scenarios, which are based on a “broad review” of forward-looking reports and analyses.  One scenario sees Europe and its research and innovation investment as one of the key global drivers of change in climate and energy policy, urbanisation, digital healthcare and disease prevention, and security and resilience, while the second scenario is slightly more pessimistic tone and foresees the “perseverance” of current trends and the intensification of existing challenges.

The Commission’s foresight exercise will look at how key individual sectors will evolve by 2030, to identify potential and challenges ahead. These sectors include healthcare, mobility, energy, and controversially the future of security and defence. One cross-cutting area for focus could be autonomous systems.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

E4Water report demonstrates EU Chemical Industry's water eco-efficiency

Today (18 October 2016), the results of the 'SusChem inspired' E4Water project - a ground-breaking water sustainability initiative - were presented by Cefic during a joint task force meeting with the European Commission in Madrid. The project, which was sponsored jointly by the European Commission under the FP7 Research Framework programme and industry stakeholders, produced real-world outcomes in industrial contexts where companies used less energy, less freshwater, and produced less waste water.

Designed to give a major boost to the water efficiency of the European chemical industry, the E4Water project aimed to demonstrate the benefits of integrated, cost and energy efficient water management. Including 19 partners across nine EU countries, and with six pilot sites the total project investment was € 19 million and the project ran from 2012 to 2016.

“Although the European chemical industry is a standard-bearer for eco-friendly measures like cutting greenhouse gas and increasing energy efficiency, this project identifies important new potential for increased water efficiency. This not only helps safeguard the planet by saving water and energy but also costs for industry”, said William Garcia, Cefic Executive Director. “We hope to see the model this project demonstrates scaled up in other industries to make important gains for the climate.”

Pilot examples
Six pilot cases were conducted to demonstrate what is possible if the recommendations from this project are taken up by other industry stakeholders and integrated into their processes. The potential benefits shown in the pilot studies included:
  • Reduction of 3 million m3 of freshwater per year
  • Reduction of 2.5 million m3 of produced wastewater per year
  • Reduced wastewater discharge by 4 million m3 per year
  • Reduced resource use through more efficient processes
  • 20% less energy used by implementing low energy technology
  • A drop in operating expenditure of 30% for every m3 of saved freshwater/year
  • Eliminating need for incineration (5,000 tonnes/annum/plant)
More information on the project and its outcomes can be found in the E4Water brochure with a more detailed report available on the project's website.

Water efficiency is a huge part of tackling climate change. The EU chemical industry – Europe’s fifth largest manufacturing sector – relies on water for many industrial processes. For example, processing, washing, heating, cooling and transporting products. To cut the amount of water required for these processes, the E4 Water project applied new research and development concepts to boost its eco-efficiency and sustainability.

The ‘Economically and Ecologically Efficient Water Management in the European Chemical Industry’ (E4Water) project addressed crucial process industry needs to overcome bottlenecks and barriers for an integrated and energy efficient water management. The main objective was to enable more efficient and sustainable management of water in chemical industry sector and identify possibilities to share the models developed with other industrial sectors.

The E4Water project consortium united large chemical industries, leading European water sector companies and innovative RTD centres and universities active in the area of water management with and collaborators from national and regional water authorities. The project received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Monday, 17 October 2016

Join ClubCO2 on 21 October

The technical and economic issues around #useCO2 projects will also be the subject of the second CO2 reuse seminar organised by ClubCO2 with the support of ADEME and the CO2Forum. This event takes place on 21 October 2016 in Lyon, France and will focus on the question: What are the economic and environmental benefits of CO2 reuse? The first ClubCO2 seminar was organised in Le Havre in May 2015, Club CO2.

The morning session (to be conducted in English) will present the current position and prospects for the policy-making, regulatory and economic aspects of CO2 reuse and analyses of the economic and environmental benefits of different CO2 conversion processes, based on industrial applications.

The afternoon parallel expert sessions will be organised in English and French speaking workshops with the aim of discussing and highlighting the conditions for the successful emergence of CO2 transformation technologies.

You can find more information about the Club CO2 seminar here and registration for the event can be found here.

The ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) founded Club CO2 in 2002 with the support of the IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN - formerly French Petroleum Institute) and BRGM (Bureau of Geological and Mineral Research). Since 19 March 2016, Club CO2 has been a non-profit association registered under French law to bring together industry and research organisations in this area.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Mini Chemical Machines win 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

A tiny lift, artificial muscles and miniscule motors. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize inChemistry 2016 to Jean-Pierre Sauvage of the University of Strasbourg in, France, Sir Fraser Stoddart at the Northwestern University in the USA, and Ben Feringa of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines”; molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added. The development of computing demonstrates how the miniaturisation of technology can lead to a revolution. 

The three 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have miniaturised machines and taken sustainable chemistry to a new dimension.

The first step towards a molecular machine was taken by Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 1983, when he succeeded in linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, called a catenane. Normally, molecules are joined by strong covalent bonds in which the atoms share electrons, but in the chain they were instead linked by a freer mechanical bond. For a machine to be able to perform a task it must consist of parts that can move relative to each other. The two interlocked rings fulfilled exactly this requirement.

The second step was taken by Fraser Stoddart in 1991, when he developed arotaxane. He threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle. Among his developments based on rotaxanes are a molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule-based computer chip.

Ben Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor. In 1999 he got a molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. Using molecular motors, he has rotated a glass cylinder that is 10 000 times bigger than the motor and also designed a nanocar (below).

The 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken molecular systems out of equilibrium's stalemate and into energy-filled states in which their movements can be controlled. In terms of development, the molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to washing machines, fans and food processors.

Molecular machines are part of the sustainable chemistry tool kit that will be used to develop future new materials, sensors and energy storage systems. To learn more about their collective achievement a collection of their research papers, drawn from Nature Research journals, can be found here.

Feringa in Brussels
2016 Nobel laureate Prof Ben Feringa will feature at the International Solvay Institutes’ annual public event on Sunday 23 October 2016 at the Flagey Studios in Brussels. He will be one of the main speakers on the theme of ‘‘Chemistry for the World of Tomorrow’’ and will highlight research at the frontiers of sustainable chemistry.

The event will feature three Nobel Chemistry laureates – two as its main speakers

The lectures will be followed by a panel discussion of distinguished scientists led by Professor Kurt W├╝thrich (ETH and Scripps Institute), 2002 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. The audience will also have the opportunity to ask questions to the panel on the most pressing issues facing today’s chemistry.

The lectures and debate will be delivered in English with simultaneous translations to Dutch and French. The event is free, but participants must register in advance here.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Top Innovators needed to shape European Innovation Council

The European Commission is looking for top innovative people to help shape the new European Innovation Council (EIC). If you think you could help strengthen Europe's capacity to generate and scale up breakthrough innovations then the Commission is inviting you to join a High Level Group (HLG) that will advise on the design of the new EIC.

It is hoped that the High Level Group will start its work by early 2017 with an initial duration of 24 months, which may be renewable. The High Level Group will consist of have up to 12 members who would need to be available to work with the group by the end of 2016.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, set out his ambition to create a European Innovation Council in June 2015. Its aim is to boost the impact of EU research and innovation programmes by stimulating innovative start-ups and SMEs with the potential to grow into world-beating businesses.

The EIC will focus on support for innovative firms and entrepreneurs with the potential to scale up rapidly to become the game-changers of the future, helping spur growth and new jobs in Europe.

Commenting on the EIC HLG Commissioner Moedas (above) said: "Europe can do more for innovators, especially those with the ambition and capability to create new markets. EU support for innovation must be open to start ups and innovators with the potential to scale up, and reflect their needs. That is why I am setting up this High Level Group, and invite our leading innovators to put their names forward."

How to apply
The full call for applications for the EIC HLG can be found on the Horizon 2020 Participant Portal and the deadline for applications is 27 October 2016. Applications are invited from individuals acting in a personal capacity, who are already active in different parts of the innovation ecosystem, such as:
  • Entrepreneurs who have started and scaled up innovative enterprises at European/global level 
  • Investor and start-up communities (including banks, Venture Capitalists, Business Angels, crowd funders etc.), and 
  • Those involved in the wider innovation ecosystem (knowledge transfer, business schools, innovation hubs, accelerators, etc.).
The Commission will assess applicants against the following factors and criteria:
  • Their track record in the start-up and/or scale up of innovative firm(s) at EU/international level 
  • Their Commitment and passion for innovation
  • Their contributions to the development of the broader innovation ecosystem at EU/national/regional level 
  • Any recognition by authorities and/or achievements, for example in the form of prizes and awards obtained at national, European or international level 
  • The balance of members within the group in terms of skills, experience, gender, age and geographical origin.
EIC background
The European Commission ran a public call for ideas between 16 February and 29 April 2016 to gather stakeholders' views on disruptive, market-creating innovation, on gaps in the current innovation support landscape and on the potential remit of a European Innovation Council. As the SusChem blog reported Cefic submitted a position paper to this call. A report on the results of the call was published in July 2016.

The HLG will be another step towards the establishment of a European Innovation Council. A number of pilot actions for the EIC could be launched during 2017 under Horizon 2020 with a full-fledged EIC rolled out in the successor ‘FP9’ programme.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

RESYNTEX: A New Circular Economy Concept for Textiles and Chemicals

On 14 September 2016, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) organised an Experts Workshop on Textile Waste Situation & Textile Waste-to-Chemicals Scenarios. The event, held in Brussels, brought together European textile waste and chemical industry experts to discuss the current situation and trends in textile waste collection and valorisation in Europe, and to validate textile waste-to-chemicals symbiosis scenarios developed by the RESYNTEX project

RESYNTEX, a research projected funded by the European Commission’s HORIZON 2020 Programme, aims to create a new circular economy concept for the textile and chemical industries. The project started work in June 2015. Through an innovative recycling approach and industrial symbiosis, RESYNTEX will transform textile waste into secondary raw materials, creating circularity and reducing environmental impact. The project objectives and current status were presented by the project coordinator SOEX Group. RESYNTEX has 20 project partners from across 10 different EU member states, including industrial associations, businesses, SMEs and research institutes.

During the workshop (above), the experts reported that, currently, many valuable materials contained in textile products are still disposed of as waste after use, and much of the waste is sent to landfill or incinerated with high environmental impact. Not enough post-consumer textile waste is separately collected in Europe and a significant residual part of the non-reusable waste does not get recycled. The purpose of RESYNTEX is to change that reality, designing a complete value chain from textile waste collection to new feedstock for chemicals and textiles. The project aims to enable traceability of waste using data aggregation, to develop innovative business models for the chemical and textile industries, to demonstrate a complete reprocessing line for basic textile components, as well as increasing public awareness of textile waste and boosting social involvement. Participants highlighted that citizens should receive more information in order to be involved in new ways of thinking and behaving towards textile waste, with a focus on sustainability.

Textile waste
An overview of the textile waste situation in Europe was provided by EURATEX and Oakdene Hollins. First, textile waste for the purposes of RESYNTEX was defined as “non-hazardous textile waste and is focused on residual waste currently sent for landfill or incineration, after all re-usable and easily recyclable fractions have been sorted out.” This material is accessible to the project from a range of different textile waste streams: production waste, post-use industrial/professional and post-consumer textile waste. According to the Eurostat waste generation data; there is approximately one million tonnes of textile waste collected separately from households in the 28 countries of the EU every year. However, collection rates vary extremely widely across Europe from rates of 30-50% in Western and Northern Europe to virtually 0% in some Eastern European countries.

A first estimate provided by Oakdene Hollins, based on an extrapolation of data provided by nine textile sorters in different EU countries, shows a total volume of 80 000 tonnes of residual waste generated by the EU-28 sorters per year.  Out from that volume and the composition of the residual material, which consists of 60% textile fibres, the total volume of textiles that is accessible to RESYNTEX from that waste stream is 50 000 tonnes per year. More detailed information on the composition of such waste will be evaluated during the project by the partners and contacts in regional textile sorters.

An overview of the French experience on textile waste and recycling was provided by Eco TLC, a not-for-profit private company directed by a board of industrial companies that aims to tend towards 100% reuse and recycling for used clothing, household linen and footwear (TLC in French).  Every company that introduces clothing, household linen, and footwear items on the French market to sell under their own brands, must either set up its own internal collection and recycling programme or pay a contribution to Eco TLC (accredited by the French Public Authorities to manage the sector’s waste) to provide it for them. The funds collected support research and development (R&D) projects that are selected by a scientific committee to find new outlets and solutions to recycle used TLC, and are used to publicise campaigns organised by local authorities to change consumers’ waste sorting habits. Every year, 600 000 tonnes of TLC are placed on the French market; however, only 32.5 % of used TLC is collected for reuse or recycling. TLC reported that up to 7% of the collected post-consumer textile quantity is currently incinerated, partly in cement production, or even sent to landfill.

The Netherlands has a goal of increasing the collection of post-consumer textiles by 50% by 2020.Today, the waste collection is about 90 000 tonnes per year. The low quality materials and non-reusable waste are the main challenge to waste textile usage. ECAP (LIFE) and REMO were mentioned by Alcon Advies/ Texperium as good examples of projects on textile recycling initiatives.  Belgium has an exceptionally high rate of separate textile waste collection due to a dense network of containers and other collection options across the country. The new report from COBEREC shows that, in 2015, 120 000 tonnes of old clothes were recycled in Belgium equivalent to 500 million pieces. Lower quality textiles are reused as rags (20%) or their fibres are recycled (17%). And about 8% of textile post-consumer waste is not reusable. An overview of Czech Republic textile waste scenario was provided by INOTEX Ltd: only 3 000 tonnes of textile waste is separately collected per year and only 3% of all textile waste seems to be recycled at present.

Recycling business
Cefic described existing polymer recycling business practices in other segments and summarised existing initiatives, pilots, commercial activities and other major research projects in the field of textile polymer recycling. For the RESYNTEX relevant types of fibres in the textile waste, Cefic discussed the relevant market environment. Potential business models suitable for such textile/chemical symbiosis were discussed by the workshop participants, for example scenarios describing regional delocalised sorting and pre-treatment of the textile waste and transportation to central chemical conversion plants to achieve economy-of-scale.

The RESYNTEX expert workshop provided an excellent platform to exchange valuable information between the participants, and challenge and validate Textile Waste-to-Chemicals Scenarios as Circular Economy concepts. The discussions and conclusions highlighted the enormous value such future symbiosis could create for both sustainability and the economic benefit of the sectors involved and society as a whole.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Register now for 18th Annual LRI Workshop!

The 18th Annual Cefic-LRI Workshop will take place in Brussels from 16-17 November 2016. The event is organised by the Long-Range Research Initiative Programme (LRI) of the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and it's main focus this year will be on ‘AOPs (Adverse Outcome Pathways) and Genomics: how useful, how to address risk, and where next?’

The event kicks off on the evening of Wednesday 16 November 2016 at the Le Plaza Hotel with an invited poster session and networking cocktail followed by the Workshop Dinner and the 2016 LRI Innovative Science Award ceremony.

This evening session will be chaired by Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux from Solvay Award. He will introduce 2015 LRI award winner Dr Alice Limonciel of Innsbruck Medical University who will present the results of her study to establish thresholds of activation for stress response pathways and ligand-activated receptors for chemical classification.

This will be followed by the presentation of the €100,000 2016 LRI Innovative Science Award to the winning research concept who will outline the work they intend to undertake thanks to the award funding.

On Thursday, 17 November the workshop venue will be The Square in Brussels. This main workshop session will consist of a morning plenary session covering the impact of LRI research in the following key project areas:
  • Environmental methodology of mixtures and residues
  • Grouping of nanomaterials
  • Dust and workers exposure
  • Dermal absorption modelling
  • Eye irritation alternatives
  • Epidemiological evidence of Endocrine Disruption
  • Epigenetics normality
After Lunch a thematic panel discussion on ‘AOP and Genomics: how useful, how to address risk, and where next?’ will be chaired and moderated by Prof Ian Kimber of the University of Manchester.

You can download a draft programme for the event here and registration is now open and free!