Thursday, 9 October 2014

BIO-TIC looks at CO2 based chemicals

BIO-TIC's second business case workshop took place in Lyon on September 24 as a side event of the Third CO2 Forum conference entitled: ‘Large Volume CO2 Utilization Enabling Technologies for Energy and Resource Efficiency, 3rd Edition, The CO2 Forum, International Sustainable CO2 Chemical and Biochemical Recycling’ organised by CPE Lyon. The objective of the BIO-TIC workshop was to discuss the use of CO2 as a feedstock for Industrial Biotechnology (IB) processes and more specifically to discuss the barriers that hamper the development of IB for CO2 utilization.

The potential to use greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) as a feedstock for producing new materials is a hot topic currently and could help to develop a true circular economy.

To define the opportunities and hurdles in the “CO2 to Chemicals” business case the BIO-TIC workshop explored the role of industrial biotechnology in:

  • Direct production of chemicals through the transformation of CO2
  • “Artificial leaves”, using CO2, water, sunlight and a (semiconductor) catalyst to produce glucose as a feedstock for industrial biotechnological processes to produce chemicals

Hurdles identified
The delegates, from both academic and industrial backgrounds, identified the main hurdles for CO2 bioconversion technologies and sketched out a set of recommendations and concrete actions to overcome these hurdles. Participants also stressed the need for a close collaboration between IB experts, the chemical industry and the owners of CO2 sources, since CO2 bioconversion will require some level of customization such as tuning the IB processes to match the characteristics of different CO2 emission sources.

Overall the discussions with participants provided the BIO-TIC project partners with additional, focused input for the next and final version of the roadmap on Industrial Biotechnology, to be released at the end of the project in July 2015.

“Although there are already a few concrete projects, such as the fermentation of syngas, the general view of participants was that CO2 Bioconversion technologies could become viable in the 2020-2030 timeframe,” commented Pierre Barthelemy, Research and Innovation Manager at Cefic. “The most advanced process, including artificial photosynthesis, will require more time to become significant and could only play a role after 2030.”

What is BIO-TIC? 
Funded by the European Commission, BIO-TIC was launched, as an FP7 project, with the aim to establish an overview of the opportunities and barriers to biotechnology innovation and propose approaches to address them.

Modern use of industrial biotechnology is critical in a bio-based economy. Deploying the full potential of biotech innovation will enable European industry to deliver high-value products to consumers and create new commercial opportunities. New feedstock demands will lead to synergies amongst SMEs and large industrial partners. New technological developments will boost European export of technology and facilities by bringing some of Europe’s top sectors together: chemical industry, engineering and renewables.

However to date, major hurdles continue to hamper the full exploitation of biotechnology in Europe. These hurdles may vary from technological bottlenecks to limited availability of venture capital and fragmented policy frameworks.

BIO-TIC seeks to define product segments and applications that promise significant potential for Europe’s industry and society by 2030. Five major “bio-business cases” have been identified that are EU-competitive and have the potential to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas. The event in Lyon was the second in a series of five workshops looking at these identified product segments and applications.

Based on these business cases, BIO-TIC will develop three in-depth “bio-roadmaps”. These 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. And, 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 version of the roadmaps is 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. You can find more information on the BIO-TIC FP7 project here.

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