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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Critical Raw Materials for the EU

Raw materials are fundamental to Europe’s economy, growth and jobs and are essential for maintaining and improving quality of life. Securing reliable, sustainable access to certain raw materials is of growing concern within the EU and across the globe and the Raw Materials Initiative was instigated to manage responses to raw materials issues at an EU level. At the heart of this work is defining the critical raw materials for the EU’s economy.

These critical raw materials have a high economic importance to the EU combined with a high risk associated with their supply. SusChem has been involved with the work of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials and a revised report has recently been published.

The latest version of the report on Critical Raw Materials for Europe was completed at the end of May and has recently been published with associated materials profiles and extra annexes with additional information.

SusChem has contributed to the Ad Hoc Working Group in particular helping to widen the scope of the report.

In the original report published in 2010 14 critical raw materials were identified from a candidate list of 41 non-energy, non-agricultural materials. During 2013 54 non-energy, non-agricultural materials were analysed using the same quantitative methodology as previously: the economic importance of the material and the supply risk.

The overall results of the 2013 criticality assessment are shown below with the critical raw materials highlighted in the red shaded zone (top right).

Specifically 20 critical raw materials were identified from the new list of 54 candidate materials: Antimony, Beryllium, Borates, Chromium, Cobalt, Coking coal, Fluorspar, Gallium, Germanium, Indium, Magnesite, Magnesium, Natural Graphite, Niobium, Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), Phosphate Rock, Heavy Rare Earth Elements (REEs), Light Rare Earth Elements (REEs), Silicon Metal, and Tungsten

This new list includes thirteen of the fourteen materials identified in the previous report, with only tantalum (due to a lower supply risk) moving out of the EU critical material list. Six new materials enter the list: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal.

In its 2011 Communication on raw materials (COM (2011)25 of 2 February 2011) the Commission adopted the first list and stated that it would continue to monitor the issue of critical raw materials in order to identify priority actions. It also committed to undertake a regular review and update of this list at least every 3 years. The new report contains recommendations on how to improve the next revision which is planned to start in 2016.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Water Diary Dates

Some dates for your diary for water issue related events.

Water Stewardship: Local Actions driving Global Impact
The European Water Partnership (EWP) and the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) are dedicated to advancing water stewardship and responding to the needs of water users to demonstrate credible water risk mitigation.

The two organizations are inviting stakeholders to learn more about how water stewardship is being implemented at site level and the links between the global and European initiatives at an event that takes place on the afternoon of 3 July from 14:00 to 17:00 at Finland’s Permanent Representation to the European Union, Avenue de Cortenbergh 80, Brussels.

Delegates will hear about real-world stories from companies that will illustrate best water stewardship practices and demonstrate how you can also become engaged. A panel session will bring together perspectives from civil society, investors, policy-makers and business to share their experiences with water stewardship in different regions and sectors.

Details of the event’s full programme will be available soon, however the venue has a finite capacity so to be sure of a seat register now! The conference will be followed by a networking drink!

Wetsus Congress in October
The Wetsus Annual Congress 2014 will take place on 6 – 7 October in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. The theme of the 2014 Congress is ‘From Knowledge to Business’ and the organizers are hoping to welcome over 700 delegates to this major European Water Technology conference.

The two-day event will feature inspiring speakers throughout and in the science programme on Day 2 includes two world-wide renown keynote speakers: Derek Lovley on microbiology and Alexander Friedrich on anti-biotic resistance.

For further details on registration and more information about the programme visit the congress website.

SusChem and Water 
SusChem is working to boost innovation in water related topics to contribute to improved use and treatment of water and further develop a sustainable water policy.

To achieve these solutions SusChem works with a range of partners, including the European Water Platform (WssTP) and the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water).

EIP Water has ambitious objectives, some examples are: to reduce private water consumption, increase water efficiency in irrigation, decrease the water footprint of all industries, minimise water loss in distribution systems and reduce the energy used in the water sector.

And don’t forget the Second Annual EIP Water Conference will take place on 5-6 November 2014 in Barcelona!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

#SusChem10 Day 2: Sustainable Chemistry defining the Next Decade

The second day of SusChem's 12th Stakeholder Event was packed with presentations and discussions on a variety of new opportunities for sustainable chemistry research and innovation ranging from the new ability to combine funding available through European Union initiatives to the challenges for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enable increased energy and resource efficiency in the chemical and wider process industries. The afternoon brokerage session saw project presentations and 'speed-dating' as SusChem stakeholders looked to initiate collaborative contributions to the next round of Horizon 2020 calls and kick-off the next 10 years of SusChem success!

In his concluding remarks Chairman of the SusChem board, Dr. Klaus Sommer summed up the first decade of SusChem saying that: "When we started SusChem we had a lot of ground work to cover, but we  were successful in establishing SusChem as a voice to be taken seriously."

He praised SusChem's achievements including its three flagship projects under FP7 and its significant contributions to establish two PPPs - the SPIRE PPP and the BBI JTI - under Horizon 2020. Today the platform is working broadly with a number of other relevant European initiatives, such as the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs), and is renewing its strategic plans via a new Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) that reflects the new needs and challenges following the start of Horizon 2020, SPIRE and BBI.

Dr Sommer stressed that SusChem needed to be more proactive about communicating the benefits of sustainable chemistry and its beneficial impact for society. "The chemical industry represents some 11% of all the economy in Europe – essentially nothing works without chemistry," he said.

SusChem needed to fight continuously to ensure that the competitiveness of the European chemical and biotech industry is not weakened and must continue to drive SusChem strategy, develop our national technology platform network to establish an excellent strategy that can really improve European competitiveness. "Lets start the success for the next 10 years now!" he concluded.

Combined funding
The morning had started with a panel discussion on new innovation opportunities through combined funding. Doris Schroecker of DG Research (below, second left) described the new innovation investment eco-system in the EU that was aiming to help achieve a full and sustainable recovery and new growth for the European economy. She recognised that the chemical industry was a sector that is innovative and invests. Her emphasis was on funding instruments under Horizon 2020 but she also stressed the opportunities for synergies with structural funds for investment projects.

The synergy aspect was reinforced by Heidi Moens of DG Enterprise and Industry (above far left) who described the practicalities of combined funding. For work in key enabling technologies the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) were now that are funded to the tune of € 110 billion and the general idea was to provide funding instruments that can cover all stages of the innovation chain with optimal use of resources.

There were two main principles to combining funding:
  • No substitution, i.e. the funding could not act as a substitute for national or private contributions to Horizon 2020
  • No double financing, i.e. no two EU funding instruments could cover the same cost item.
A new guide on the practicalities of combining funding would be published by the Commission in the very near future.

Olivier Debande (second right above) of the European Investment Bank (EIB) described its role in financing innovation.The EIB had recently received a boost to its loan capital to € 71 billion and a new toolbox of instruments for investment in innovation (InnovFin) was to being launched today (12 June).

Thomas Goergen (far right above) from Bayer Technology Services gave a couple of practical examples of projects that had benefited from combined funding including the F3 Factory project where the project itself was funded via FP7 while the construction of its backbone infrastructure facility (INVITE) was partially funded by German regional government funds.

The key was to produce a 'Master Plan' for funding that showed how different funding sources were to be used to ensure transparency and avoid double funding.

Future Technologies
Ales Fiala of DG CONNECT (below) described the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) component of Horizon 2020 which covered some 3.5% of the Horizon 2020 budget under the Excellent Science theme.

FET was about visionary ideas, emerging concepts, and building new communities and under Horizon 2020 it had a new mandate that goes beyond ICT to bridge from excellent science to exciting technology futures and turn the EU into the best place for dynamic ideas.

FET has three elements:
  • FET Open - for early ideas, bottom up projects on novel ideas for radical new technologies
  • FET Proactive - involving a top-down process with topics specified by development communities and focusing on emerging innovation themes and communities. These has two strategic objectives: coordinated exploration of directions to build a pool of knowledge and new research alliances.
  • FET Flagships – large-scale programmes on grand challenges that were long term (10 year). For example the Graphene Flagship with a focus on moving from academic laboratories to establishing a European 'graphene' industry.
Education and ICT
After coffee two parallel sessions took place. The 'Integrating Higher Education, Business and Research for Sustainable Chemistry Innovation: EIT’s next steps' session (below) looked at the role of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology  (EIT) Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) . KICs are seen as an ideal way of involving SMEs in collaborative innovation. A new KIC on Advanced Manufacturing will be launched soon and the Climate Change KIC is supporting some CO2 utilisation projects that are of great interest to SusChem and SPIRE.

KICs had a very useful role in shaping the workforce of tomorrow and enabling industry to interface with education. They were a very flexible funding format.

The second session on 'ICT in Chemical Processing' (see below) also produced a "vivid discussion" and yielded the message that "data will be the new oil".

ICT is already essential for advanced process control in industry and will become even more important in the future as an enabler for improvements resource and energy efficiency. It is therefore very important that the sustainable chemistry community can articulate its needs, knowledge gaps and challenges to guide research and development in this area. There was a clear window of opportunity for chemical process issues to be addressed in DG CONNECT.

Feedback from the two parallel sessions was relayed by rapporteurs Rodney Townsend (KIC-EIT, centre below) of RSC and Andreas Foerster of Dechema (ICT, right below) before SusChem chairman Klaus Sommer concluded the main proceedings and thanked the organising team.

Towards the next 10 years
Dr Sommer (below)  picked up a number of points from the two days of discussion in his concluding remarks including the need for incorporating ICT issues into the SusChem SIRA and helping to integrate the farming and forestry sectors with the bioindustry – here he thought joint BBB - SPIRE projects would be very useful.

Many of the challenges, for example in chemical energy storage, needed to be demonstrated practically at large scale not just in the laboratory and he also welcomed the ideas for greater coordination between classic chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry in formulation sciences.

Brokerage bonanza
After lunch the Horizon 2020 Brokerage session was kicked off by a presentation by Soren Bowadt of DG Research and Innovation (below). Soren focused on the experienced gained from the results of the first calls for SPIRE PPP, which had been some of the first to be evaluated under the new European Commission programme.

The success rate for the first SPIRE calls had been 16% success rate and he anticipated a similar rate for future calls.The call had resulted in a main list of 11 projects worth € 58.4 million and a reserve list of six projects worth € 39.1 million.

He emphasised that the calls under Horizon 2020 are challenge based with a strong focus on innovation outcomes and the potential emphasis of the results. Including an outline business in a proposal was important to demonstrate impact - and this could include ideas for further funding under ESIF etc. It was also to respect the TRL level of the call and to demonstrate the credibility of all collaborative partners.

For various reasons the deadline for 2015 calls was likely to move backwards from mid December 2014 to early February 2015. This would be announced officially once the Horizon 2020 Work Programme had been adapted to reflect the change.

The Brokerage presentations were split into two parallel sessions covering waste and/ or side-stream valourisation (10 project presentations) and Materials and Processes for Improved Capacities (9 project presentations). In addition six groups presented their ideas and capabilities via a poster session during the speed-dating session.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

#SusChem 10 Day 1: Sustainable Chemistry at the Forefront of Innovation

SusChem's 12th Stakeholder Event and 10th anniversary celebration kicked off today (June 11) at the Renaissance Hotel in sunny Brussels. Some 250 members of the SusChem stakeholder community were registered for the event. The theme of the event was 'Sustainable Chemistry: At the Forefront of Innovation: Defining the New Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda for the Next Decade.' 

Following the screening of a specially made SusChem 10th Birthday video, Dr Klaus Sommer (below) welcomed delegates and described the history of SusChem since its launch in 2004, its significant achievements - including the initiation of projects worth more than € 1.5 billion in FP7, its visionary flagship projects such as the Smart Energy Home, the F3 Factory and Integrated Biorefinery projects, and more recently the launch of two PPPs under Horizon 2020 : SPIRE and the BBI JTI.

Dr Sommer then looked forward to further success through the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). He reminded delegates that: "The 3Ps of sustainability - Planet, People, Profit - are at the heart of everything that we do at SusChem."

The new SIRA would focus on providing sustainable solutions to boost competitiveness in Europe and he looked forward to another 10 years of success - starting today!

Clara de La Torre (above), Director of Key Enabling Technologies at the European Commission DG Research and Innovation continued the theme of industrial renaissance in Europe highlighting the key role of EU industry in wealth creation and competitiveness.

Two lessons had been learnt from previous research programmes: the need to take knowledge closer to the market; and that implementation of research findings was key.

"SusChem has achieved outstanding results and was a great success story," she concluded declaring: "Long life to SusChem!"

The new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) was then introduced by Jacques Komornicki (below), Secretary of the SusChem ETP.

Jacques related the societal challenges under Horizon 2020 and the priorities in the draft SIRA to SusChem's enabling technologies. The SIRA was organised around these societal challenges.

After coffee the event split into six parallel breakout sessions with the following themes:

  • Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials
  • Biotechnologies and the Bio-economy
  • Clean and Efficient Energy
  • Transportation
  • Health and Well-being
  • Horizontal Issues

These round table sessions then discussed priorities and made a first pass of outlining potential ideas for work, including timelines etc. Discussion was lively (see the energy session above) and brought out some excellent ideas: some building on existing SIRA text and others suggesting different areas for research.

Rapporteurs from each breakout group then reported back to the main session (see above).

SusChem NTPs
The final formal session of Day 1 was on the role of SusChem National Technology Platforms (NTPs) from Cristina Gonzalez, Chairwoman SusChem Spain (below).

Cristina highlighted three main reasons for being involved or initiating a SusChem national technology platform (NTP): to help in forming the foundation for project consortia through networking; helping to influence the definition of national (and international) research and innovation priorities; and enabling stakeholders in your country - especially SMEs - to understand and participate in international research collaborations.

At the end of the day a networking cocktail was held combined with a NTP poster session featuring all 12 of SusChem's national platforms.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Ten Years of SusChem: Celebrating Success, Preparing for the Next Decade

Today (11 June) in Brussels the European Technology Platform (ETP) for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) is celebrating 10 years of achievement in sustainable research and innovation in Europe. Since its launch in 2004 SusChem has made significant contributions in areas from industrial biotechnology to process technologies and the development of new materials. And SusChem is preparing to do even more during the next decade. Over two days SusChem will be celebrating its achievements so far and looking to future activities in the context of its new Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA).

Clear commitment to Europe
Over the past 10 years SusChem has benefited from the solid commitment to sustainable chemistry of a broad range of stakeholders from industry, academia, and research and technology organization (RTOs) from all parts of Europe to build an invaluable network for sustainable chemistry across the continent.

Through its network of national technology platforms (NTPs), and a proactive approach to other industrial and technology sectors, SusChem is a trusted partner for research and innovation activities with the European Union and its member states. SusChem is officially recognised as a platform in the European Commission’s new research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

A decade of achievement
Over the past 10 years SusChem has inspired research and innovation projects worth well over one billion euros: the vast majority funded via the European Commission’s FP7 programme. Under Horizon 2020 SusChem is proud to have inspired two major new public-private-partnerships (PPPs) that will deliver real competitive advantage for Europe: the Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) PPP and the Bio-based Industries (BBI) Joint Technology Initiative (JTI).

“SusChem is leading the development of many of the key enabling technologies that are indispensable to achieving sustainable solutions for our most pressing societal challenges,” said Chairman of the SusChem Board Dr. Klaus Sommer (pictured right).

The next 10 years: breaking new boundaries 
On June 11 and 12 the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) will be discussed. The SIRA will set SusChem’s research and innovation priorities for the medium term.

An executive summary of the SIRA can be downloaded here.

However, to ensure future sustainable growth and competitiveness in Europe needs more than innovative sustainable technologies. To successfully compete with the US and China Europe must play to its strengths in a united effort to establish a sustainable, innovative and dynamic society.

“The proximity of European value chains across many different sectors, the possibility to easily work together on highly technical, cross-border projects, and the European economic eco-system of large and small enterprises working together give Europe a strong head-start to deliver the sustainable technologies the world needs,” commented Dr. Sommer.

And to enable Europe to meet the needs of our 21st century societal challenges, we also need a working population that is equipped with the right skill sets.

“We must make sustainable chemistry and science education in general more exciting and inspiring to attract more of our best young people with the right skills to science, technology and engineering careers. Without these skills Europe cannot build the sustainable future that we all want,” concluded Dr. Sommer.

The Stakeholder event
The SusChem Stakeholder event is taking place on 11 and 12 June 2014 at the Renaissance Hotel, Rue du Parnasse, Brussels with the theme: “Sustainable Chemistry: At the Forefront of Innovation. Defining the New Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda for the Next Decade.”

For more information on the event keep an eye on the SusChem blog or follow @suschem on twitter. We will be tweeting pictures and comments from the event under the hashtag #suschem10.

SusChem was initially formed as a joint initiative between Cefic, DECHEMA, EuropaBio, GDCh, ESAB and RSC with the objective to revitalize and inspire European chemistry and industrial biotechnology research, development, and innovation in a sustainable way.

SusChem was officially launched on Tuesday 6 July 2004 at an event hosted by the then Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin in Brussels. You can access Commissioner Busquin's speech from 6 July 2004 here (in French).

More information on the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) can be found on its website.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Enabling the Circular Economy: an essential role for Chemistry

On 28 and 29 May in Tarragona, Spain the III ForumSusChem - Sustainable Chemistry, innovative and competitive companies (3SCICC) presented industry trends and advances showing the essential role of chemistry as a driving force for the circular economy. The circular economy is an economic model based on eco-efficient product design that enables end-of-life component separation and maximises reuse to minimise waste.

Organized by SusChem España, the Spanish SusChem NTP, 3SCICC was an official satellite event for the European Union Green Week 2014 that also focused on the circular economy.

The circular economy champions a major change from a ‘take-make-dispose’ linear economy to a circular – more natural – model and has an increasing number of supporters as the model needed to face the needs and challenges of the 21st century such as reduced availability of resources and an increasing global population.

Sustainable Chemistry innovation provides the fundamentals for a circular economy such as new materials, new production systems (including use of CO2 as a feedstock), and sustainable water management and SusChem and 'SusChem thinking' was well represented in the presentations made at the event.

SusChem commitment
The forum opened with speeches from the Mayor of Tarragona, Josep Fèlix Ballesteros; the Chancellor of the Rovira i Virgili University, Josep Antón Ferré; the President of the Spanish Chemical Industry Federation (FEIQUE), Luis Serrano; Mª Ángeles Ferre from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness; and SusChem España president, Javier Brañas (see below).

“SusChem España and the 300 companies and organizations that participate in the Sustainable Chemistry Technology Platform, as well as this SusChem Forum, prove that the chemical sector is convinced that in a situation as intensively competitive as the present one, its future depends on being ever more efficient and sustainable, on keeping to provide solutions to all productive activities” remarked FEIQUE president Luis Serrano at the opening. “Our commitment is not only on ever improving, but on contributing to global improvement”.

“Circular Economy is an economic model based on eco-design and by products valorisation, making use of them and creating auto-regenerative systems that allow for obtaining high added-value products” said SusChem España president Javier Brañas. “Circular Economy also aims to improve energy and resource efficiency, these changes having an impact on all industrial sectors, so the real achievement is the multiplier effect generated. Chemical industry is the main supplier of many industrial sectors, so its embracing circular economy will favour change in other sectors as well.”

SPIRE and SusChem
In the opening plenary session Gernot Klotz, Executive Director of Research & Innovation at the European Council for Chemical Industry (CEFIC) presented the role of the chemical industry as the basis for sustainable growth.

He was followed by Jose Lorenzo Vallés from DG Research and Innovation Area at the European Commission who outlined the role that the SusChem inspired SPIRE Public Private Partnership will be playing to deliver increased energy efficiency and sustainable resources.

Closing remarks at the event were made by Dr. Klaus Sommer, Chairman of the Board of SusChem. He praised the work done by SusChem España in its nearly 10 years of operation and stressed that the areas addressed in the Forum 3SCICC underline SusChem’s approach and the Horizon 2020 strategy of the European Union.

Working groups show the way
Forum 3SCICC was structured around four areas representing the different approaches from which chemistry can contribute to the new economic model and that significantly coincide with the working groups that form SusChem España.

The four areas were: Efficiency and Design; Resource Efficiency; Energy Efficiency and Process Intensification; and By-Products Valorisation.

Efficiency and Design included presentations by Ignasi Cubiñá of Eco Intelligence Growth; Juan Miguel Moreno from Repsol; Rinske van Hainingen at Akzo Nobel; and Juan Ruiz, of Plastics Europe. They addressed issues such as the significance of acquiring a global vision of the whole life cycle when designing a product, the use of biotechnology and nanotechnology in the development of more eco-efficient and sustainable products, and the use of plastics in housing rehabilitation and progress towards Smart Cities.

The Resource Efficiency session included the participation of Vincent Jamblin from Tractebel Engineering; Claudia Niewersch of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland; Veronica Garcia of Dow Chemical Ibérica and Prof. Frank Hollmann of TU Delft. Aspects such as the development of processes and recent progress in implementing phosphorus recovery were addressed. Possible uses of water in chemical reactions, the various options open to close the water cycle; and the promotion and support of resource efficiency for industrial development, were also approached.

Energy Efficiency and Process Intensification included presentations by David Velázquez of DVA Global Energy Services; Peter Cox from Emerson Process Management; and Amalio Garrido of the Federation of High Energy Products Industries (FIPAE). The way automation can enable new ways of operating chemical plants in future markets with limited resources, higher energy costs and limited available expertise; advanced energy management; and the use of chemical reactions for clean energy generation and storage, were addressed.

By-Products Valorisation addressed aspects such as value creative combination applications to the end of life PVC recycling value chain; CO2 based polymer production; reduction of carbon dioxide to methanol and methanol-derived products; or obtaining glycerol from biodiesel.

Participating in the By-products valorisation area was Christoph Gürtler from Bayer Material Science who is currently investing in the construction of a production line that will use CO2 as raw material for producing polyurethane foams. Also participating were José Ramón Ochoa-Gómez of Tecnalia who presented the great potential of glycerol as platform molecule for obtaining commercially valuable compounds. Atsushi Urakawa from the Institute of Chemical research in Catalonia (ICIQ), presented the state of the art in CO2 reduction to methanol and methanol-derived products. Finally Joan Martí of Sita SPE Ibérica spoke on value creation from plastics recycling.

Friday, 6 June 2014

BIO-TIC Workshop on CO2 based chemicals

BIO-TIC has announced the date of its second ‘bio-business workshop’. The theme will be the “CO2-based chemicals business case” and the workshop takes place in Lyon, France on 24 September. This is the second workshop out of a series of five workshops looking at product segments and applications in the bioeconomy that BIO-TIC have identified as having significant potential for European industry and society by 2030.

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. SusChem speakers presented on this and related topics at Green Week this week (5 June).

The “CO2-based chemicals business case” workshop will precede the major “Large-volume CO2 Utilization: Enabling Technologies for Energy and Resource Efficiency, 3rd Edition, The CO2 Forum, International Sustainable CO2 Chemical and Biochemical Recycling” Conference organised by CPE Lyon. This means that many leading experts in the field will already be in Lyon, increasing the effectiveness and participation in the workshop and the benefits of attending both events. The BIO-TIC event will be organised as an official satellite event and registration for the event will be opening soon!

Why attend the workshop? 
Input from the market and experts in industry and research are vital to build a basis for BIO-TIC’s roadmaps. Therefore, the BIO-TIC team is working to engage with multiple stakeholders across different value chains with activities on a range of technological domains from chemistry and engineering to health and the environment.

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

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

The objectives of the workshop are to:

  • Identify technological, non-technological and market hurdles for the uptake of industrial biotechnology as a basis for use of CO2 as a feedstock;
  • Develop recommendations and solutions to overcome the identified hurdles;
  • Contribute to the development, testing and fine-tuning of the BIO-TIC roadmap;
  • Bring together industrial biotechnology end users (downstream) with technology providers (upstream), innovation agencies and decision makers to stimulate interconnected discussion and knowledge exchange platforms and processes; and
  • Collect data to develop draft indicators to measure the socio-economic and environmental impact of industrial biotechnology and the use of renewables-based products in the European Union

The BIO-TIC workshop will take place from 12:00 to 18:00 on 24 September 2014 at CPE Lyon - Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon and will be free to attend.

For more information about our workshop download the BIO-TIC – CO2 workshop flyer or contact the BIO-TIC secretariat.

Enabling CO2 Utilization
How can we transform large volumes of CO2 into materials and fuels needed for quality of life and sustainable development? How does the field of CO2 recycling contribute to the current policy objectives in the field of climate change mitigation?

The CO2 Forum on 25 to 26 September will address the latest answers to these questions with leading international academics, industrialists and policymakers to assess the emerging chemical, bio-engineering, and process innovations based on renewable energy sources.

CO2 chemical and biochemical recycling is a desirable environmental solution and a viable business and research opportunity. The CO2 Forum aims at reinforcing such position by bringing together relevant policymakers, corporate business, and academia researchers in an open 2-day conference for an update on three main topics:

  • Current policy and environmental context (including CO2 taxation, CO2 regulation, and socio economic analyses)
  • Business opportunity (“negative cost” chemical)
  • Scientific and technologic innovation with sustainable energy source 

For more details on the CPE CO2 Forum visit the conference website.

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 (IB) is critical in a bio-based economy. Deploying the full potential of biotech innovation will enable the 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. We have now identified five major “bio-business cases” which are EU-competitive and have the potential to introduce cross-cutting technology ideas.

These are:

  • Bio-plastics Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and polylactic acid (PLA) 
  • Building blocks 
  • Bio-fuels 
  • Bio-surfactants 
  • CO2-based chemicals 

Based on these business cases, we are 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 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 and for more information about the BIO-TIC FP7 project visit the project website.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Green Week 2014: Chemical Innovation and the Circular Economy

SusChem will be taking an active role in Europe’s biggest annual conference on environmental policy that launches today (3 June). The Green Week 2014 conference takes place from 3 to 5 June in Brussels. And its themes for 2014 – the circular economy and resource efficiency – are topics where SusChem is already taking a lead.

The Green Week 2014 programme is full of SusChem relevant sessions and SusChem will be present throughout the week.

In particular session 6.3 on ‘Business and Resource Efficiency’ on Thursday morning from 11:30 addresses how businesses can improve resource efficiency, enhance competitiveness, reduce costs and contribute to better resource management. The session will showcase good practice and the potential for scale-up from companies participating in initiatives including the SPIRE (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency) PPP.

During the session Pádraig Naughton, Innovation Manager - Resource and Energy Efficiency at Cefic (right), will talk about SPIRE and resource efficiency initiatives at the Dow Chemical company.

In his contribution Pádraig will be emphasising the underlying principle of the circular economy: that it cannot be achieved without wide-scale collaboration and cooperation. “There is a need to extend beyond company boundaries to regions, national and European levels,” says Pádraig. “We need to work with partners along the value chain, within and across sectors.”

SPIRE initiative
This is, of course, where initiatives like the SPIRE PPP, which is bringing together eight industry sectors to tackle resource and energy efficiency issues in a major pan-European cross-sectorial effort, are so important.

“An understanding and close cooperation with adjacent industries is required to maximize the benefits from waste and by-products, which could enable increased process efficiency in chemical processes,” says Pádraig.

Pádraig will also talk about other ongoing initiatives in the chemical industry and related sectors including developments at Dow’s Terneuzen complex in south-west Netherlands and a number of Cefic-SusChem FP7 funded projects including Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R) and BIO-TIC.

A value chain approach is essential for success to ensure that the supply circle is closed and suppliers and all value chain partners, including consumers, enable the recycle and reuse of waste as a production resource. This means that cross-sectorial partnerships, such as SPIRE, must ensure that innovation is enabled and implemented across all elements of society. The innovation chain must connect research to customers to consumers to government and regulatory policymakers.

Technological and business solutions are being developed in local and EU-wide initiatives that can enable a circular economy, but there are policy, trade and image barriers that need to be addressed. “For example, cross-border transfer of waste remains a challenge which needs to tackled at EU level,” explains Pádraig.

Industrial symbiosis
The concept of industrial symbiosis will be an important part of the circular economy and will be included in the priorities in the new SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) to be launched for wider consultation at the SusChem Stakeholder event on 11 – 12 June.

Industrial symbiosis occurs where waste and side streams are used in an integrated concept for complete resource management at, for example, an industrial park, site or region. The strategic challenge of industrial symbiosis is to increase resource efficiency and turn waste, including chemical sector by-products and carbon dioxide (CO2), into resources. This will address issues including resource flows (materials and energy) to identify opportunities to reuse these resources, resource efficiency (i.e. new tools to optimize resource efficiency in manufacturing) and CO2 reuse (new products from reusing CO2).

Following the session on ‘Business and Resource Efficiency’ on the afternoon of 5 June these is also a session that directly addresses the use of CO2 as a potential raw material for industry.

Session 7.1 ‘Carbon dioxide – today’s waste, tomorrow’s raw material?’ will look at a range of emerging processes that are looking to use CO2 to produce chemicals, materials and fuels. This is an area where SusChem and SPIRE are already heavily engaged in the European Commission’s new research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

The SusChem SIRA will further outline our thinking in this and other areas and the practical research and innovation activities that are required to turn the concepts of a circular society and radically improved resource efficiency into a reality.

Green Week 2014 will be taking place with events throughout Europe and Brussels. The venue for the main Green Week conference will be the Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels. Visit the Green Week website for more details.

Monday, 2 June 2014

#SusChem10: Video shoot

Registration for the SusChem Stakeholder event is now closed. But preparations for our 10th anniversary event are in full swing. Today (2 June) the weather in Brussels was sunny and bright so we took advantage of the conditions and  recorded some video interviews for the event outside in the sunshine.

First up was Frank Agterberg (above) who was the first SusChem coordinator at Cefic and a main motivator in getting the idea for a European technology platform on sustainable chemistry off the ground from 2002 to 2005.

Rodney Townsend, past chairman of the SusChem board and long-term supporter of the technology platform, was also taped on Monday.

And our final outdoors shoot was with EuropaBio's Director of Industrial Biotechnology Joanna Dupont-Inglis (above, right) who talked about industrial biotechnology's contribution to SusChem and the new Biobased Industries JTI that will officially launch on 9 July.

Cefic Research and Innovation Communication Manager Esther Agyeman-Budu (left) was asking the questions for all of the interviews.

Looking forward to seeing the final edit at the SusChem 10-year Anniversary. See you there!