Friday, 25 July 2014

EFIB2014 hosts BIO-TIC Building Block Workshop

The Seventh European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology (IB) and the Biobased Economy (EFIB2014) takes place in Reims, France from 30 September to 2 October and will be one of the events of the year on the exciting and rapidly developing European sustainable biobased economy scene. And SusChem FP7 project BIO-TIC will be contributing with a special workshop on biobased chemical building blocks.

The agenda for EFIB2014 is now confirmed with over 15 countries represented on the conference programme and plenary highlights including debate on the policy agenda for the European bioeconomy, sessions on future feedstocks including what the shale gas boom might mean for Europe's transition to a biobased economy, and opportunities to help define the value chain for a selection of biobased materials. A closing panel session will define opportunities for improving the sustainability profile of industrial production.

EFIB2014 takes place in association with IAR, EuropaBio and Smithers Rapra and will build on the success of EFIB2013.

Chemical Building Blocks
BIO-TIC’s workshop will debate what we need to do to build the foundations for the biobased chemicals industry in Europe. In 2013, the demand for biobased chemical building blocks in the EU was estimated at € 1 billion. By 2030 this is estimated to grow to between € 4.8 and 10.4 billion.

Despite the significant societal, environmental and economic advantages associated with using biobased chemical building blocks, many hurdles exist to their full implementation. These hurdles must be addressed to realise the full market potential for biobased chemical building blocks in the EU and include:

  • Securing a large enough supply of feedstock and at a price which is economically attractive compared to elsewhere in the world.
  • Uncertain definitions, for example for waste, hinder the exploitation of novel and cheap waste streams.
  • Lack of political support for chemical building blocks production, resulting in a lack of confidence from investors and users.
  • Uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of the increasing appetite for shale gas.

The BIO-TIC workshop takes place on the afternoon of 1 October at EFIB2014 and will verify that the hurdles already identified within the project are relevant and will develop concrete and actionable solutions to overcome them. The project focuses on the following chemical building blocks: 3HPA, succinic acid, PDO, furfural, and isoprene as the chemical building blocks that have the highest potential for deployment in the EU.

The workshop will seek to answer the key questions surrounding the production and use of chemical building blocks in Europe, including:

  • Should the EU focus on a broad chemical building block portfolio or should it reap the benefits from its strong R&D base and the current developments in favour of shale gas to develop a competitive advantage in biomass derived aromatics and C3/C4 chemicals?
  • Should the EU focus on improving existing technologies, fine and speciality chemicals where quality is crucial or focus on developing completely new technologies? 
  • Is it feasible or desirable to develop an internationally harmonised framework to allow international trade in biobased chemical building blocks?
  • How do we improve the cost-competitiveness of EU chemical building blocks production?
  • Should we introduce a specific mandate for bio-based chemicals in the EU or would tax incentives or infrastructure grants be more effective?
For more information on EFIB2014, including how to register, visit the conference website.

What is BIO-TIC?
BIO-TIC is a three year project, funded by the European Commission, which aims to identify the hurdles to IB and to develop solutions to overcome them, thereby unlocking the massive potential for this key technology in Europe. The project focuses on five product groups which have significant potential for Europe and which have the potential to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas. These product groups are:

  • Biobased chemical building blocks 
  • Bioplastics (PHA and PLA)
  • Biosurfactants
  • Advanced biofuels
  • CO2 based chemicals

Based on these business cases, the project is developing three in-depth “bio-roadmaps”. These will focus on the market potential, R&D priorities and non-technological hurdles of IB innovation. In particular, the market roadmap will provide market projections up to 2030. The technology roadmap will focus on setting R&D priorities and identifying needs for pilot and demonstration of plant activities. Last but not least, the non-technological barriers roadmap will identify regulatory and non-technological hurdles that may inhibit industrial biotech innovation reaching new market opportunities. The second draft versions of the roadmaps are already online while the final version will be released in July 2015.

All the BIO-TIC roadmaps, can be downloaded from the BIO-TIC Partnering Platform and for more information about the BIO-TIC FP7 project website.

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