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Monday 23 May 2016

Introducing Henk Pool

Cefic Research and Innovation has recently recruited two Innovation Managers who will be heavily involved with SusChem activities over the next few years. Some members of the SusChem community will have met Anne Chloe Devic and Henk Pool prior to their secondment to Cefic and as they took up their duties for SusChem over the past few months. All stakeholders will have the opportunity to meet them at the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event.

In two articles we are introducing both managers and asking them about what they are expecting to achieve for Sustainable Chemistry in Europe during their time with our platform. Today we talk to Henk Pool. 

Career highlights
After completing a Master’s degree in engineering degree at Twente University of Technology in The Netherlands, Henk Pool joined Dow Chemical’s R&D facilities at Terneuzen in The Netherlands in the late 80’s. Pool’s first industrial activities were application development with customers in the field of Styrene Polymers. He became a group leader for Dow’s Polystyrene (PS) R&D Team in Europe four years later. In this role Henk Pool joined Dow’s European business team for PS and Dow’s global PS technology team, travelled the (Dow) world and was directly responsible for a number of key research projects in Dow’s PS business portfolio.

In the very late 90’s Henk changed the direction of his career and joined Dow’s Corporate Six Sigma team at Dow’s Headquarters in Midland in Michigan USA for almost six years. Returning to the Dow facility in Terneuzen, he became responsible for the R&D finance and operations of one of Dow’s major business portfolios. By late 2008 the role of Director for the Terneuzen R&D laboratories had been added to his responsibilities. In 2010, Henk Pool also became Director of the R&D centre for Dow at the brand new King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. He joined Cefic R&I department as an Innovation Manager in February 2016.

Henk Pool spends his free time between his family, sports (including cycling and running), home and garden improvement projects.

What is your view on Sustainable Chemistry? 
Sustainable Chemistry enables better use of available resources. Better use at each and every step in the value chain between feedstock materials and customers, like you and me, who are continuously using chemistry enabled products. As a matter of fact, sustainable chemistry does not stop there, but rather continues with post-product life reuse and recycle of products and materials. Sustainable chemistry helps improve our life, reduces our environmental footprint and addresses key societal challenges. For instance in energy and climate change chemistry is a key enabler in the development of wind and solar as alternative energy sources.

Too often I hear biobased products suggested as the only sustainable option. In my definition of Sustainable Chemistry biobased materials do not replace, but rather complement fossil-based materials.

What challenges do you foresee?
Continuing our current lifestyle and the pace of living by 2030 we would need approximately 30% more water, 40% more energy and 50% more food. This is clearly not sustainable and is a point on which, I hope, we can all agree. When we talk in terms of solutions, we mostly point at what others can or should do.

But what can “I” do in terms of sustainability and circular economy? The answer is relatively simple, more than you think and collectively more than we thought we could achieve. Sustainable Chemicals play an important role in all of this by enhancing properties, reducing environmental footprint and enabling our competitive position.

There are many key technological challenges ahead but we must be guided by the fact that sustainability is not an alternative, but the way to enhance our position and competitiveness. Eco-design should be the start of any new innovation project – we should always start with sustainability in the front of our mind.

How do you see your new role contributing to your view on Sustainable Chemistry?  
One of my responsibilities is a key and increasingly scarce resource: water. The chemical industry is both a user of water and also an important solution provider of innovative products, technologies and services which can enable more sustainable water management. Innovation is driving water use, enabling water reuse and enhancing water quality. SusChem inspired projects like E4Water are demonstrating at industry scale our ability to decouple economic activity and water consumption by closing water loops and enabling reuse of water in the chemical industry. I see an aspect of my role is disseminating these results, identifying barriers for implementation, defining opportunities and creating innovation momentum for much broader implementation across our and other sectors including EU policy development to support uptake.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your three years at Cefic?
With the research and innovation team at Cefic I hope to further increase the involvement of the chemical industry in collaborative innovation projects. Collaborations between academia, RTOs, institutes and industry with the objective to share experiences, complement knowledge and accelerate development and implementation of potential “game changers” I terms of competitiveness and sustainability.

In particular I look forward to contributing to the new SusChem inspired project Veram. This unique project involves five European Technology Platforms (ETPs) working together to define a 2030 vision and 2050 roadmap for research and innovation programs in raw and precious materials.

What areas are you looking to collaborate with others and how do you prefer to be contacted?
I will be dealing with several aspects of the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), including water and (critical) raw materials. I am looking at closely networking with experts in the industry, representing their needs and working with them on some valuable and important collaborative innovation programmes.

You can contact Henk Pool via email.

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