Tuesday, 25 October 2011

First Steps to a Water Efficient Europe

SusChem attended the first Stakeholder consultation on the candidate European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water Efficiency on October 20. More than 100 stakeholders had registered for the event in Brussels and SusChem had the opportunity to talk with representatives from interested organisations such as the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WssTP), European Water Partnership, the agricultural sector and SMEs organisations.

For each of the EU2020 targets, water is, without doubt, an essential resource element be it in terms of competitiveness of industry or in terms of sustainable development. So far, European citizens have not been confronted with severe water shortages, but as the demand on water increases and the global climate changes, Europe is becoming increasingly susceptible. The balance between water demand and availability has already reached a critical level in many areas of Europe.

The key water challenges in Europe are:
  • Scarcity of water as a resource
  • The water / energy nexus
  • Unsustainable waste water treatment (including pollution)
  • The need for water for making the bio-based economy and the development of eco-industries happen in Europe
Chemical industry
The Chemical Industry plays an important role in the whole water cycle due to its position being, on one hand, one of the biggest water-consuming industries, and, on the other hand, one of the biggest providers of water treatment materials and technologies. The industry’s commitment to the water topic and efforts to address its challenges are clear through its track record of supporting projects through SusChem and the WssTP.

These projects include the FP7 Coordination and Support Action ‘Coordinating European Strategies on Sustainable Materials, Processes and Emerging Technologies Development in Chemical Process and Water Industry across Technology Platforms’ (ChemWater) launched in May 2011 and the FP7 project ‘Economically and Ecologically Efficient Water Management in the European Chemical Industry’ (E4Water). This project to be finalised soon aims to create a breakthrough in industrial water treatment by enhancing its reuse, recycling and valorisation.

Water is used intensively by many different sectors: Agriculture-Urban-Industry, which makes water management, on the one hand, a challenging subject that cannot be tackled by one sector alone, and on the other hand an opportunity for Europe to establish a leadership position in this domain.

Symbiotic approach
There is a need for a symbiotic approach with two axes. Water quality and water quantity. The symbiotic approach includes reuse, waste water treatment, and recovery of raw materials from water that can be used as feedstock for other processes/ industries.

The Water Quality axis includes sustainable water production of the “right quality” for the “right use” (i.e. urban, industry and agriculture) and Sustainable waste water management. In this area examples of chemical industry contributions include more performing/ efficient chemically-enabled technologies with reduced environmental and energy impact such as:
  • Products for water purification technologies including new membrane technologies
  • Chemical and physical treatments, including seawater desalination
  • Elimination of water pollutants like phosphates and nitrates
The Water Quantity axis focuses on reducing the consumption of water. In the chemical industry this includes:
  • Reducing water consumption through new design of processes that demand less water
  • New sustainable cooling systems without water
  • Internal recycling and reuse (Resource Efficiency PPP- REP)
  • Reducing the use of fresh/drinking water resources (sustainable use of alternative sources such as desalination, waste water from urban areas, etc.)
  • Waste water treatment and management.
Underlying innovation
Underlying the whole approach is improved innovation. In times of major challenges for our economies and societies, innovation is highlighted as one of the efficient tools to achieve the ambitious targets of a smart, sustainable, competitive and inclusive Europe. As captured by the Innovation Union, Innovation is much more than research. It is about exploiting knowledge and ideas into solutions for the whole of society. This is the reason why the chemical and process industry noted with great interest the change in European policy to complement research policies with the European Innovation Partnerships that are supposed to embody this new understanding for the European initiatives and will bring it back in the global competitiveness and sustainable development race.

More information
To find out more on SusChem's work on 'Rethinking Water' contact Antonia Morales Perez at Cefic.

SusChem FP7 Success Stories

Creating economic value through effective collaboration

SusChem Europe and the Polish National Technology Platform SusChem organised a workshop in Warsaw on October 18, under the patronage of the Polish Presidency of the EU. The meeting brought together European policy-makers, politicians, industry and academia to share the benefits and impacts that have resulted through collaborative research and discuss best practices for successful EU projects, including impacts for scientific and commercial partners.

During the event at Warsaw University, speakers presented three FP7 projects involving significant Polish contributions (EUMET, EFECTS and INTENANT) and with great scientific and commercial potential. Dr Keith Simons, who worked as an EC-appointed advisor with these project teams, also described key generic learning points to ensure success in EU projects.

Polish perspective
Speaking at the panel discussion , Mr. Wojciech Lubiewa-Wielezynski, President of the Board of the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry, described the challenges for major Polish industries to successfully work, in collaboration framework projects, with academic colleagues and the importance of SusChem national platform in Poland. However it is necessary to:
  • encourage chemical industry in Poland to be much more involved in research and innovation
  • increase of practical use of the Polish science potential in chemistry by industry
  • organize awareness workshop for the stakeholders with participation of EU-15 chemical industry. An opportunity for such as event could be during the Chemical Technology Congress in Krakow on 8-12 July 2012 or before through the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry.
In this context, the good opportunities in the new EC framework programme, Horizon 2020, were discussed. For energy and resource intensive industries, SusChem is positioning the importance of the process industries in Europe in overall EU 2020 policy objectives. The concrete Public Private Partnership proposal in this area, which is currently under EC evaluation, would give excellent opportunities both for Polish industries and related academic partners.

Horizon 2020
Mr. Lubiewa-Wielezynski looked forward to future European research and innovation programmes saying: “Horizon 2020 will create significant targets on energy and resource efficiency improvements and Poland has a good hand of cards to play in these areas.”

Supporting this statement Ger Spork, Innovation Manager at Cefic said that: “The chemical industry’s participation will be of critical importance for these targets within the Horizon 2020 programme.”

Søren Bøwadt, Programme Officer for DG Research and Innovation commented that he was impressed by the quality of the projects presented and how well they fitted with the SusChem strategic directions. From the panel discussion he sought to encourage the chemical industry and academia in Poland to get further involved with collaborative participation in EC projects, as clearly in the new Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, some good opportunities could be expected on themes important for the SusChem Poland partners.

Patent success
All three projects demonstrated the importance of academia and industries working together to accelerate knowledge creation and build business opportunities. Industrial Biotechnology, Materials Technology and Reaction and Process Design, all key aspects of the Suschem Research Agenda were targeted by the projects. In addition to commercial success, the project outcomes are also impacting upon the challenges facing European society. To date, the projects have already filed 10 patents, and more are anticipated in the near future.

For example EUMET (Design, Development, Utilization and Commercialization of Olefin Metathesis Catalysts) developed a range of novel olefin metathesis catalysts. The first example has already been scaled-up by industrial partner Umicore. Improved olefin metathesis catalysts have also been discovered and approved for the synthesis of the Janssen Pharmaceuticals anti-hepatitis drug, TM435 currently in Phase III clinical trials.

In total over 50 new complexes were created and some 100 reactions tested. In addition to the direct benefit for the project partners, one catalyst is already available from research catalogues, and further selected catalysts are also to be brought to the market.

INTENANT (Integrated Synthesis and Purification of Enantiomers) has developed methodologies for improving the chemical yields (significantly reducing the cost of goods) during the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). AstraZeneca is training over 100 chemists on the use of these new approaches which has been found to significantly improve process yields for a drug currently in Phase II clinical trials. The project has also benefited the German SME Molisa GmbH which has been able to develop an efficient synthetic route to the anti-tusive (cough-suppressing) Noscaspine. The molecule is also under investigation for its anti-cancer properties. In addition, a new company, FGEN has been created as a spin-out from the ETH, Zurich which will be supplying contract research services on the high-throughput racemisation approaches developed within the INTENAT project.

Finally EFECTS (Efficient Environmental-Friendly Electro-Ceramics Coating Technology and Synthesis) reported on the novel functional inks and ink-jet printing techniques developed during the project. The Greek SME Nanophos reported how they were able to rapidly commercialise the formulations developed during the project and offer self-cleaning and water-repellent surface coatings which are being incorporated into various building materials. The German SME Zenergy Power GmbH also reported it development of high-temperature superconducting tapes that could see application in turbines for wind and marine power generation.

Pictures from the meeting show (above from left to right): Johannes Spork - Cefic, Prof B A. Glowacki - University of Cambridge, Prof. Dr. Habil Karol Grela - Warsaw University, Dr. Søren Bøwadt - European Commission DG Research and Innovation, Wojciech Lubiewa-Wielezynski - President of the Board at Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry and Mr. Zbigniew Kamienski - Deputy Director, Ministry of Economy Poland.

Pictured below (from left to right) are: Dr Martin Hedberg - Astra Zeneca, Dr. Angelino Doppiu - Umicore, Prof. Dr. Habil Karol Grela - Warsaw University, Dr. Andras Horvath - Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Monday, 24 October 2011

SusChem at Wetsus

SusChem was present at the seventh annual Wetsus Congress held in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, on October 3 and 4. Wetsus is a centre of excellence for sustainable water technology.

More than 300 people participated in the convention and on the first day, the topic addressed was “Cooperation in innovation, a global requirement?” and speakers from diverse backgrounds presented their views on this subject. On the second day, the topic was focused on “International scientific developments in water treatment technology”. In addition, a number of parallel sessions were organised around water science and technology.

Several of the world’s leading scientists in this field including Prof. Eilon Adar, Director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Israel and Prof. Dr. Benny Freeman, Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Texas at Austin, discussed the latest developments in water management and water related technologies.

During the Wetsus event, SusChem was represented in the exhibition area. The technology platform reiterated its commitment to addressing the challenges facing water management and supply, and its important role in bringing together academia and industry to speed up knowledge and business opportunity creation in the face of this crucial challenge.

SusChem is actively involved in European initiatives, such as the ChemWater FP7 project, that is contributing to the essential planning required for a future European Innovation Partnership on water efficiency. ChemWater is based on the long-standing, sucessful collaboration between the European Water Platform (WssTP) and SusChem.

ChemWater will outline how a more efficient use of water can be achieved to avoid the anticipated impacts of water shortages driven by climate change and other factors. The process industry, especially chemistry, plays an essential role as both a major water user and a key solution provider for the development of future water technologies.

BIOCHEM Milan Success, Frankfurt Next

BIOCHEM held its first “Accelerator Forum” in Milan from 5 to 7 October. The event, which was run alongside the LIFE_MED 2011 conference, attracted over 90 attendees, including SMEs, investors and representatives from national and regional innovation agencies.

As well as hearing about the BIOCHEM project and getting an opportunity to try out the new toolbox, there were a number of general talks outlining some of the European and national initiatives aimed at stimulating the bio-based products market. Over the second and third days a variety of SMEs had the opportunity to pitch to a panel of investors and get constructive feedback on their business plans and market focus.

The event provided an excellent opportunity to assemble companies, private investors and innovation agencies in one place and many fruitful discussions took place outside the main sessions. The next Accelerator Forum will take place alongside the huge ACHEMA 2012 meeting, which will be held in Frankfurt between 18 and 22 June. By this time BIOCHEM will have identified many more SMEs to take part in the project and benefit from a BIOCHEM boost to their business.

SMEs that have an interest in developing their activities in the bio-based product market are very welcome to take part in BIOCHEM. It costs nothing, apart a few hours of your time, and could have a major impact on your success in this growing market. You can contact any of the partners through the BIOCHEM website. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Water Efficient EIP starts consultation

SusChem wil be participating at the Stakeholder consultation for the candidate European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water Efficiency that takes place in Brussels tomorrow (October 20). During the consultation stakeholders will discuss the proposal and its concrete objectives and targets, focus areas, structure, governance and implementation.

Under the Innovation Union flagship initiative of the European Union, DG Environment, in close cooperation with DG Research and Innovation and other DG's, is developing a proposal for a candidate EIP on Water Efficiency.

Water scarcity and droughts already affect one third of the EU territory, floods across Europe have caused enormous human and economic costs, while water pollution remains an issue across Europe, posing threats to public health. These are major societal challenges with links to many sectors. Innovative solutions, bringing together all involved actors and different disciplines can provide effective and sustainable solutions and can contribute to realizing a global leadership position for European innovative solutions to water challenges.

SusChem is already involved in initiatives, such as the ChemWater FP7 project, that can support the proposed EIP.

This general meeting at the Centre Borchette will be first of a number of stakeholder consultations. Further, more specific stakeholder consultations on particular elements of the proposal will be organised until the end of February 2012.

It is hoped that a Commission Communication will then be developed for June 2012 with subsequent endorsment by the European Council and the European Parliament later in the year.

SusChem at 'Entrée en matière'

The SusChem exhibits on the Smart Energy Home (SEH) and F3 Factory (see below) are amongst a multitude of attractions featuring advanced materials and material science at the 'Entrée en matière' exhibition organised by Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris.

This major exhibition runs from today (19 October) to 31 October in the Trocadéro Gardens close to the Eiffel Tower in the French capital.

The SusChem exhibits were organised via the Union des Industries Chimiques who have more images from the exhibition on their Facebook page.

The exhibition covers all types of matter from the elements to galaxies, cells to neutrinos showing the beauty of nature and the excitment of science.

Entry to 'Entrée en matière' is free and the exhibition is designed to be accessible to all ages from 8 to 80 and beyond. Attractions include films, documentaries and debates with specialists.

The major themes of the event are: 'Exploring Materials', 'Transforming Materials', 'Materials for Life', and 'Dream Materials'. A number of special event days are scheduled including a 'Chemistry' Day on Saturday 29 October from 10h00 to 19h00.

In addition two conferences are being organised. On 21 October a conference on "Chemical Careers" is being held at 14h30, while the conference on 27 October at 14h30 the topic is "Decoding chemicals labels".

Not to be missed!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Star-COLIBRI issues Biorefinery Vision, Roadmap

The final event of the FP7 Star-COLIBRI project in Brussels last week (7 October) marked the official publication the project's Joint European Biorefinery Vision for 2030 and Joint European Research Roadmap 2020. The High-level Policy-maker Conference on Biorefineries saw a discussion of key policy priorities in the context of the future bio-economy strategy. Special emphasis was given to the important role of biorefineries in achieving the ambitious goals set out in this strategy, including resource-efficiency, sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.

The Joint European Biorefinery Vision for 2030 predicts that the Biobased Economy is expected to grow significantly in Europe in the next 20 years. One of its core pillars is biorefining: the sustainable processing of biomass such as food, fuel and paper into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. In 2030, it is estimated that biorefineries will use a wider range of feedstocks and will produce an even greater variety of end-products than today.

Biorefinery goals
Achieving the goals set out in the report will require future biorefineries to be better integrated, more flexible and operating more sustainably. This will only be possible if crucial bottlenecks along the entire value-chain can be removed.

To address these challenges, several strategic research areas must be addressed by 2020. These are:
  • Biomass production and supply (including logistics)
  • Processing (both pre-treatment and conversion)
  • Programme integration (cross-sector, value-chain optimisation, process integration and overall sustainability assessments), and
  • Market development (from research to markets).

Invaluable tools
“The new reports on Biorefineries as well as the key strategic research areas discussed at [the] conference have provided invaluable information and tools to enable policy-makers to build a framework for the development of a sustainable European bioeconomy, with a network of biorefineries playing an essential role,“ said Johan Elvnert, coordinator of the project.

Commenting at the event, Dutch MEP Judith Merkies said: “Policy-makers in Europe have identified three key challenges that will affect Europe before the rest of the world. These are an ageing society, stability and equity in the economy and resource efficiency. Because our consumption grid is the highest per person in the world, it is our responsibility in Europe to turn these challenges into benefits. The issues and solutions identified through the Star-COLIBRI project are exactly the kind of responses intended under the EU Innovation Partnerships and it is of critical importance to resource efficiency in Europe and to the economy as a whole that we initiate these solutions as soon as possible”

More information
The Joint European Biorefinery Vision for 2030 and the European Biorefinery Joint Strategic Research Roadmap for 2020 are available to download on the Star-COLIBRI website.

To obtain more information on the Star-COLIBRI project contact project co-ordinator Johan Elvnert of the Forest-based Sector Technology Platform, or Christophe Luguel from the IAR Cluster.

Star-COLIBRI (Strategic Research Targets for 2020 – Collaboration Initiative on Biorefineries) is a two-year Coordination and Support Action funded under FP7. The project involves five European Technology Platforms (including SusChem) and five major European Research organisations.

Star-COLIBRI's main objectives are to overcome fragmentation and promote cross-fertilization in the area of biorefineries research, support innovation by speeding up and facilitating industrial exploitation of research results in the biorefinery field, promote coordination in the field of future R&D funding, and facilitate the creation of Public-Private Partnerships.