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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Gaseous Industrial Effluents and Industrial Symbiosis

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) has launched an invitation to tender for the extension of the services of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service (ESCSS) to additional Model Demonstrator Regions. This phase 2 of the ESCSS will have a special emphasis on facilitating the recovery of Gaseous Industrial Effluents (GIEs) as non-fossil feedstock for sustainable chemicals production. 

This Phase 2 of the ESCSS follows up on Phase 1 launched in February 2016. This extension of the services of the ESCSS will focus on how recovery of GIEs as an alternative to fossil feedstock can be best exploited to produce sustainable chemical products.

The GIEs of interest for the extension are gases originating in combustion and exothermic process as effluent gas from energy intensive industries, such as steel or cement, and could include CO, CO2, NOX, SO2, H2 and others.

Phase 1 aimed to help regions establish and further develop sound strategies towards sustainable chemical production in Europe by taking advantage of domestically available feedstock, such as biomass, waste or CO2. The experiences from this initiative will be shared with other interested European regions to provide practical guidance on how to strengthen cross-sectorial cooperation between chemical industries and other industries and sectors, notably, agriculture, forestry, energy intensive industries, waste management and recycling, and can help many regions in Europe to move towards a circular and low-carbon economy by using renewable resources for chemicals production.

Six "Model Demonstrator Regions" were selected following the Call: Andalusia, Groningen-Drenthe, Kosice, Scotland, South and Eastern Ireland, and Wallonia.

Phase two
This Phase 2 aims to deepen the support services provided by the ESCSS. Special emphasis will be laid on the use of various GIEs as a potential feedstock for the manufacturing of sustainable chemicals in Europe for the following reasons:

  • GIEs are the least developed alternative feedstock. Relatively little information exists about the economic potential of transforming GIEs into chemicals and about the impact on CO2 and other Green House Gases (GHGs) reductions
  • The recovery of GIEs as an alternative feedstock for chemicals production requires new forms of cross-sectorial cooperation - industrial symbiosis - that are very different from the use of biomass or the recovery of waste. 

At policy level, there is relatively little awareness about the potential of GIEs recovery and how to support the new forms of cross-sectorial cooperation that is needed to better exploit it.

The use of GIEs is challenging because of the need for a deeper integration of different industrial activities leading to industrial symbiosis. Industrial symbiosis will facilitate investments, in particular in resource efficiency, circular economy and energy infrastructure.

Recovery of GIEs is also a challenge in terms of ecological and economic viability; there is therefore a need for deeper reflection on this issue, taking into account policy objectives, such as, strengthening Europe's industrial base, ensuring the security of feedstock supply and further implementation of European policies related to climate change.

Potential IPCEI
In addition the Commission is supporting the elaboration of a potential Important Project of Common European interest (IPCEI), which engages major players from several Member States and companies from various industry sectors to speed up the transformation of CO2 into value for a rejuvenated European economy and to gain global technology leadership in clean technologies.

This potential IPCEI will be designed as a transnational integrated project across public and private sectors that can propel Europe to global leadership in the transformation of CO2 into value-added products and services. The Commission has already hosted a workshop as well as informal meetings with Member States and industrial stakeholders involved in the elaboration of this IPCEI project. The results from this discussion are being used by the Commission to develop new ideas on how to further promote the concept of the circular economy in the specific field of GIEs.

The overall objective of ESCSS Phase 2 is to prepare a road map that aims at valorising the concept of recovery of GIEs in Europe as alternative to fossil feedstock to produce sustainable chemicals. This will also contribute to the industrial policy objective of modernising EU manufacturing industries and enabling industrial symbiosis in Europe, and further implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

SPIRE Project Brochures Online

The Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) PPP has just published two brochures cataloguing the research and innovation projects established under its calls in 2014 and 2015. The two brochures concisely outline the aims of each project and the concepts being used to implement it. A link to each project’s website is also included. 

The 2014 Project Brochure covers the following calls and associated projects:

SPIRE 1 – 2014 on ‘Integrated Process Control’

  • RECOBA - Cross-sectorial real-time sensing, advanced control and optimisation of batch processes saving energy and raw materials 
  • DISIRE - Integrated Process Control based on Distributed In-Situ Sensors into Raw Material and Energy Feedstock   
  • PROPAT - Robust and affordable process control technologies for improving standards and optimising industrial operations 
  • CONSENS - Integrated Control and Sensing for Sustainable Operation of Flexible Intensified Processes 
  • ICSPEC - In-line Cascade laser spectrometer for process control 

SPIRE 2 – ‘2014 on Adaptable industrial processes allowing the use of renewables as flexible feedstock for chemical and energy applications’

  • STEAMBIO - Flexible Superheated Steam Torrefaction and Grinding of Indigenous Biomass from Remote Rural Sources to Produce Stable Densified Feedstocks for Chemical and Energy Applications 
  • MEFCO2 - Methanol fuel from CO2 - Synthesis of methanol from captured carbon dioxide using surplus electricity 
  • MOBILE FLIP - Mobile and Flexible Industrial Processing of Biomass 

SPIRE 3 – 2014 on ‘Improved downstream processing of mixtures in process industries’

  • PRODIAS - PROcessing Diluted Aqueous Systems 

SPIRE 4 – 2014 on ‘Methodologies, tools and indicators for cross-sectorial sustainability assessment of energy and resource efficient solutions in the process industry’

  • STYLE - Sustainability Toolkit for easY Life-cycle Evaluation 
  • SAMT - Sustainability assessment methods and tools to support decision-making in the process industries 
  • MEASURE - Metrics for Sustainability Assessment in European Process Industries 

EE 18 – 2014 on ‘New technologies for utilisation of heat recovery in large industrial systems, considering the whole energy cycle from heat production to transformation, delivery and end use’

  • TASIO - Waste Heat Recovery for Power Valorisation with Organic Rankine Cycle Technology in Energy Intensive Industries 

Waste 1 – 2014 on ‘Moving towards a circular economy through industrial symbiosis’

  • RESLAG - Turning waste from steel industry into a valuable low cost feedstock for energy intensive industry 
  • CABRISS - Implementation of a CirculAr economy Based on Recycled, reused and recovered Indium, Silicon and Silver materials for photovoltaic and other applications 
  • FISSAC - Fostering industrial symbiosis for a sustainable resource intensive industry across the extended construction value chain
  • BAMB - Buildings as Material Banks: Integrating Materials Passports with Reversible Building Design to Optimise Circular Industrial Value Chains 
  • RESYNTEX - A new circular economy concept: from textile waste towards chemical and textile industries feedstock  

The 2015 Project Brochure covers the following calls and associated projects:

SPIRE 5 – 2015 on ‘New adaptable catalytic reactor methodologies for Process Intensification’ 

  • ADREM - Adaptable Reactors for Resource- and Energy-Efficient Methane Valorisation 
  • MEMERE - MEthane activation via integrated MEmbrane Reactors 
  • PRINTCR3DIT - Process Intensification through Adaptable Catalytic Reactors made by 3D Printing 
  • ROMEO - Reactor Optimisation by Membrane Enhanced Operation 
  • TERRA - Tandem Electrocatalytic Reactor for Energy Resource Efficiency and Process Intensification 

SPIRE 6 – 2015 on ‘Energy and resource management systems for improved efficiency in the process industries’

  • EPOS - Enhanced energy and resource Efficiency and Performance in process industry Operations via onsite and cross-sectorial Symbiosis 
  • MAESTRI - Total resource and energy efficiency management system for process industries 
  • SHAREBOX - Secure Management Platform for Shared Process Resources 
  • SYMBIOPTIMA - Human-mimetic approach to the integrated monitoring, management and optimisation of a symbiotic cluster of smart production units 

SPIRE 7 – 2015 on ‘Recovery technologies for metals and other minerals’

  • ADIR - Next generation urban mining - Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment 
  • REE4EU - Integrated high temperature electrolysis and Ionic Liquid Extraction for a strong and independent European Rare Earth Elements Supply Chain 
  • REMAGHIC - New Recovery Processes to produce Rare Earth -Magnesium Alloys of High Performance and Low Cost  

SPIRE 8 – 2015 on ‘Solids handling for intensified process technology’

  • IBD - Intensified by Design® for the intensification of processes involving solids handling 

EE 18 – 2015 on ‘New technologies for utilisation of heat recovery in large industrial systems, considering the whole energy cycle from heat production to transformation, delivery and end use’

  • INDUS3ES - Industrial Energy and Environment Efficiency 
  • I-THERM - Industrial Thermal Energy Recovery Conversion and Management 
  • SUSPIRE - Sustainable Production of Industrial Recovered Energy using energy dissipative and storage technologies  

The Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) is a contractual Public-Private Partnership (PPP) dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency enabled by the process sector in Europe. The SPIRE Partnership is based on Article 19 of the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon 2020 regulation and has been established through a contractual arrangement between the European Commission and A.SPIRE aisbl. SPIRE will be implemented through competitive calls included in the Horizon 2020 work programme. The objective of SPIRE is to develop the enabling technologies and value chain solutions required to reach long-term sustainability for Europe in terms of global competitiveness, ecology and employment.

For more information visit the SPIRE website.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

SusChem 2016: Sustainable Chemistry – Innovation for Competitiveness

The 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event that took place in Brussels on 16 June once again showed that SusChem is a strong platform supporting a strong industrial sector. The platform acts as an effective bridge between the sustainable research and innovation needs of the chemical industry and European Commission policies. The debate demonstrated the excellent fit between the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), its technologies and priorities, including a sustainable bioeconomy, materials for energy management, processes and catalysis, ICT for processes, and water, and European Commission initiatives such as the Energy Union, Digitisation and the Circular Economy. Despite SusChem having no direct funding for R&I activities the influence of the technology platform is huge. At the event two new members of the SusChem community of national technology platforms were introduced: SusChem Austria and SusChem Greece.

With some 230 delegates registered from 18 European Member States the 2016 annual SusChem stakeholder event demonstrated once again the role of the platform in building a sustainable future for the European Chemical Industry. The video below give a quick overview of the whole event.

The event was also a big hit on social media with tweets using the hashtag #suschem2016 reaching over 25 700 users and with over 101 000 tweet views estimated. The three 'top tweets' from the day are republished below. 

In an opening presentation, strategic topics related to the SusChem programme were addressed by Rudolf Strohmeier (above right), former Deputy Director General of DG Research and Innovation, and a good friend and supporter of SusChem since its inception. He highlighted the recent Competitiveness Council of 26 May which for the first time had endorsed the “innovation principle” that the impact of regulation on innovation activities must be taken into account in all EU policy-making. This was a very important positive point for industry moving forward he believed. But he argued that in order to show European decision-makers and investors the value of innovation required sound business cases to be presented.

Implementing the new SIRA: Status and priorities
SusChem Chairman Dr Klaus Sommer (above left) reviewed the progress of the technology platform over the past year. He also noted that the sector had effectively decoupled energy intensity from production growth. He saw an excellent fit between the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), its technologies and priorities, and numerous European Commission initiatives such as the Energy Union, Digitisation and the Circular Economy. There were currently 70 open calls across various parts of the Horizon2020 programme that were relevant to the SusChem community. Despite SusChem having no direct funding for R&I activities the influence of the technology platform was massive.

In the coming year Dr Sommer looked to SusChem intensifying its input for future work programmes through thematic workshops and also linking through the Chem21 project into the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) for work on healthcare and well-being issues. In addition work on synergy between the BBI JU and SPIRE cPPP would be pursued, a project brokerage workshop was being organised in Seville on 13 September 2016 within the EuCheMS 6th European Chemistry Congress, and new lighthouse projects needed to be identified.

Priorities and platforms
Updates on the five main SusChem thematic priorities were given by the responsible Cefic Innovation Managers.

Work on the Sustainable Bioeconomy was described by SusChem secretary Flavio Benedito (above left) and Materials for Energy Management was presented by Anne Chloe Devic (above, middle left). Martin Winter (middle right) covered two priority areas: Processes and Catalysis, and ICT for Processes. The final topic presented was Water with Henk Pool (above right).

You can download the presentations made by Dr. Sommer and the Innovation Managers here. You can also download factsheets on the five SusChem Innovation priorities here.

Eric Firtion of SusChem France and the French Chemical Industries Union (UIC) introduced presentations on activities from a selection of SusChem's national technology platforms (NTPs). These included two new NTPs: Andreas Falk described SusChem Austria and Stelios Bikos outlined SusChem Greece’s ambitions (second and first right below respectively).

Other NTP presentations were made by Suzanne Coles (SusChem UK), Cristina Gonzalez (SusChem Spain), Eric Firtion (SusChem France), Alexis Bazanella (SusChem Germany), Tine Schaerlaekens (SusChem Belgium), Ladislav Novak (SusChem Czech Republic), and Nico Versloot (SusChem Netherlands) pictured from left to right above.

Panels debate Circular Economy, Energy Union
After lunch two panel debates took place involving European Commission and industry representatives. The first focused on SusChem and the Circular Economy and was moderated by Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cefic (pictured below, right). The circular economy could boost Europe’s global competitiveness, growth and jobs. SusChem had produced a position paper on the Circular economy calling for a sustainability based approach. Innovation is key to achieving a circular economy but this needed to be accompanied by a clear regulatory framework to ensure deployment stated Barthélemy.

The panel members were Reinhard Buescher, Head of Unit 'Chemicals' at DG GROW (middle right above); Waldemar Kuett, Head of Unit ‘BioBased Products and Processes’ at DG Research and Innovation; Gloria Gaupmann, Public & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Biotechnology and Renewables at Clariant; Reinier Grimbergen, Director Science to Innovate at DSM; Anton Valero, General Manager at Dow Chemical Ibérica (left above); and Greet van Eetvelde, Head of Energy & Innovation Policy at INEOS (middle left above).

The second panel discussion covered two topics – SusChem and the Energy Union and SusChem and Digitisation – and was moderated by Alexis Bazzanella, Head Research & Project Coordination at DECHEMA e.V. with panel members Eva Hoos, Policy Officer at DG Energy (middle above); Helene Chraye Head of Unit 'Advanced Materials and Nanotechnologies' at DG Research and Innovation; Khalil Rouhana, Director for 'Components & Systems' at DG CNECT (left above); Jens Rieger, Senior Vice President at BASF (right above); Henrike Gebhardt, Senior manager Scientific Relations at Evonik Industries AG; and Nicolas Cudré-Mauroux, Research & Innovation Group General Manager (CTO) at Solvay

From the two panel discussions on the ‘Circular Economy’ and on ‘Digitisation’ and the ‘Energy Union’ the role of the chemical industry as an amazing enabler for innovation was clear, but there was a need to ensure enhanced collaboration along and across value chains to maximise the impact of the sector’s innovations on the wider economy. Sustainable chemistry has a key role in maximising use of resources (including water) and energy both within our own sector and across other industrial and manufacturing sectors. 

Concepts such as industrial symbiosis, advanced digital technologies, and recyclable and renewable materials innovation pioneered by the chemical sector would be essential in enabling Industry 4.0, the circular economy and other sustainable development initiatives while maintaining competitiveness, jobs and growth in Europe.

Summing up the day Dr Klaus Sommer said that the clear link between competitiveness and innovation had been demonstrated, but he stressed the need for establishing sound business cases to ensure innovation can gain investment and move to implementation. Future SusChem priorities had been described and he called on all interested stakeholders to get involved with the relevant working groups. He concluded by stating that SusChem was still a strong platform supporting a strong sector and acting as a bridge between our research and innovation needs and European Commission policies.

Monday, 20 June 2016

SusChem Brokerage Event announced

The next SusChem Brokerage event was announced at the SusChem Stakeholder event that took place in Brussels on 16 June. The new brokerage session will take place on Tuesday 13 September in Seville, Spain.  

The event will take place at the FIBES - Seville Conference Centre during the Sixth European Chemistry Congress organised by EuCheMS and the Asociación Nacional de Químicos de España, ANQUE. The Congress itself runs from 11 to 15 September and is supported by SusChem Spain amongst others.

The Congress is a valuable and unique opportunity for the global community of chemistry professionals to meet, exchange ideas, explore the state of the art progress and debate the key issues underlying chemical science and practice. It is also where the European chemical community congregates and EuCheMS Divisions and sections showcase their research developments and plan future activities.

The scientific programme for the EuCheMS congress includes plenary lectures from world-leading scientists including Nobel Laureates, around 120 keynote and invited lecturers, with in total over 200 oral and poster sessions.

The Scientific programme is structured in horizontal major themes that include significant contributions to research at the forefront of chemical sciences in all areas related to chemistry: analytical, engineering, inorganic, physical, theoretical, biological, materials and technology. The main themes are for this year's Congress are outlined below.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Premiere for a New Raw Material: CO2

Today (17 June) Covestro has opened a new production plant in Dormagen, Germany that uses an innovative process that will help cut the use of fossil fuel based feedstock by partially replacing it with carbon dioxide (CO2). For the first time, Covestro is using CO2 to produce plastics on an industrial scale. The production plant for this innovative foam component made with 20% CO2 is at Covestro's Dormagen site near Cologne in Germany. The new process saves a proportional amount of the traditional oil-based raw material, thus making a contribution to sustainability that Covestro believes offers considerable potential. 

SusChem is also supporting research and innovation into the further utilisation of CO2 as a valuable feedstock for chemicals and fuels as part of a broad approach to enabling the circular economy and industrial symbiosis. The use of CO2 as a renewable feedstock features in SusChem's recent Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) and was discussed at our Stakeholder meeting on 16 June. 

SusChem believes that the utilisation of CO2 as a feedstock by the European chemical industry could be a key solution to reducing use of fossil fuels, reducing the EU’s dependence on imports of fossil resources and improving the security of supply of carbon feedstock. Exploiting sustainable carbon resources, such biomass and CO2 will enable production of more sustainable chemicals and materials with lower net CO2 emissions. 

This shift will result in reduced utilisation of fossil resources, and take industry a step closer to a true circular economy.

“We have to change the way we look at CO2, and we will. Using it as an alternative source of raw materials is a solution to some of the biggest challenges of our time – finding a replacement for finite fossil resources such as oil and gas and closing material cycles. Thanks to our innovative process and the launch of our production operations in Dormagen, we see ourselves as a pioneer in this area – true to our vision ‘To make the world a brighter place’,” said Covestro CEO Patrick Thomas at the opening ceremony. 

Long-term perspective
“This method of using carbon dioxide as a raw material is an important step as we move toward a sustainable future. The German Federal government is promoting the use of CO2 as a raw material in order to expand the chemical industry’s raw materials basis and open new avenues to sustainability,” emphasised Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The German government supported Covestro’s technology financially in the research and development phase.

Professor Ernst Schmachtenberg, Rector of RWTH Aachen University, added: “Making efficient use of the carbon dioxide molecule, which is normally slow to react, is a real scientific and technical challenge. We have made a breakthrough by combining application-centric basic research with research-based industrial practices.”

Covestro scientists worked hand-in-hand with experts from the CAT Catalytic Center in Aachen – a research institute operated jointly with RWTH – to find the right catalyst that would make the chemical reaction with CO2 possible. A team under researcher Dr. Christoph Guertler (pictured left) discovered the right catalyst to enable the use of CO2 for plastics production.

For mattresses and upholstery
In Dormagen, Covestro is now using carbon from CO2 to manufacture a new type of polyol. These are core building blocks for polyurethane foam – a versatile material that is used in many industries around the world and that we encounter throughout our daily lives. The carbon dioxide is chemically bound into the material.

The company has invested some EUR 15 million in the new plant, which has an annual production capacity of 5 000 metric tons. The CO2 used is a waste product from a neighbouring chemical company - a great example of the sort of value chains that will be the basis of a future circular economy. 

The new CO2-based polyol has been engineered initially for flexible polyurethane foam intended for use in mattresses and upholstered furniture. In terms of quality, the foam achieves at least the same high standards as conventional material produced using only petrochemical raw materials. 

Environmentally friendly processes
By eliminating the use of crude oil and saving the energy otherwise used to process that oil, the method is more environmentally friendly than conventional production processes. Thanks to the catalyst and the considerable energy contained in the remaining content of petrochemical raw materials, no additional energy needs to be expended to make the low-reactivity CO2 react.

If the new CO2-based products are received as warmly as is hoped, Covestro can envisage significant production expansion. In addition to flexible foam, the company is also working on manufacturing many other plastics with carbon dioxide. Its vision is to one day largely dispense with crude oil in plastics production.

Image credit: All images used in this article are (c) Covestro

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sustainable Chemistry: Innovation for Competitiveness

Today (16 June) at its annual Stakeholder event (#suschem2016) the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) will discuss how sustainable chemistry can continue to deliver  innovation for competitiveness for Europe. The SusChem Stakeholder Event is the biggest annual event held by the technology platform and brings together the chemical industry, academia, Research Technology Organisations (RTOs) and EU policy representatives to address common challenges and debate priorities in the European chemical and biotechnology innovation sectors.

SusChem Chairman Dr. Klaus Sommer (right) said: “In the context of the European Commission Innovation Strategy and the recently published action plans on the Circular Economy, Energy Union and Digitisation, this year’s Stakeholder Event will highlight the role of the European chemical industry in five innovation priority areas. These areas are Sustainable bio-economy, ICT for processes, Water, Catalysis and Processes, and Materials for Energy and were identified through intense discussions during our 2015 Stakeholder Event.”
“Progress in these areas, as an integral part of the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA), will be discussed in two panel debates. These discussions will help us to identify new opportunities and synergies and define priorities. The outcomes will help to create a shared view between the Chemical Industry and the European Commission on future research and innovation actions in the European chemical and biotechnology sectors. This will then be quality input for the next calls under the Horizon 2020 programme and other European and national collaborative research and innovation initiatives. This is exactly the role that a European Technology Platform like SusChem should play” he continued.

What is happening?
This year’s event will include a number of exciting activities and present important new developments for the SusChem community, including two lively high-level panel debates to discuss the recently published European Commission Innovation Strategy packages: Circular economy and the Energy Union and Digitisation.

Strategic topics related to SusChem funding and its programme will be described by Rudolf Strohmeier, former Deputy Director General of DG Research and Innovation, and this will be followed by SusChem chairman Dr Klaus Sommer presenting on 'Implementing the new SIRA: Status and priorities'.

Delegates will receive updates from working groups on the five main SusChem research and innovation priorities of Water; ICT for processes; Processes & Catalysis; SustainableBioeconomy; and Materials for Energy management.

SusChem's network of National Technology Platforms (NTPs) will also present and demonstrate their vital role in the SusChem eco-system by leveraging national government funds, working with SMEs and initiating cross border cooperation. 

Plenary debates
The afternoon sessions will be dominated by two plenary discussions on Circular economy and the Energy Union and Digitisation that will bring together strategy experts from the European Commission and captains of industry to discuss the hot topics surrounding these EC packages including:
  • Identifying new challenges and opportunities for sustainable chemistry ;
  • Identifying areas of consensus that align with the priorities of the EC and the European chemical industry; and
  • Defining new ways forward to ensure that the five SusChem innovation priorities identified are systematically considered in these two new high-level policy initiatives.
 The first plenary debate will examine the “Circular Economy” and be moderated by Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at Cefic. Contributions from the European Commission will come from Reinhard Buescher, Head of Unit 'Chemicals' at DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), and Waldemar Kuett, Head of Unit 'Biobased Products and Processes' at DG Research and Innovation (RTD).

On the industry side the panellists are Reinier Grimbergen, Director Science to Innovate at DSM, Gloria Gaupmann, Public & Regulatory Affairs Manager, Group Biotechnology at Clariant, Anton Valero, General Manager of Dow Chemical Ibérica, and Greet van Eetvelde, Head of Energy & Innovation Policy at INEOS.

The second plenary debate will cover “Energy Union & Digitisation.” Alexis Bazzanella, Head Research & Project Coordination at DECHEMA e.V. is the moderator and panellists for the Commission are Khalil Rouhana, Director for 'Components & Systems' at DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT), Marie Donnelly, Director for 'Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency' at DG Energy (ENER) and Helene Chraye, Head of Unit 'Advanced Materials and Nanotechnologies' at DG Research and Innovation (RTD).

On the industry side are Jens Rieger, Senior Vice President at BASF, Henrike Gebhardt, Senior Manager Scientific Relations at Evonik Industries AG, and Nicolas Cudre-Mauroux, Research & Innovation Group General Manager (CTO) at Solvay.

Event objectives
The SusChem Stakeholder Event is an annual high-level initiative that aims to:
  • Improve dialogue between our stakeholders;
  • Identify innovation drivers for the future;
  • Present the European chemical industry as a solution provider to address societal challenges;
  • Promote a common view between the chemical industry and the European Commission to increase synergies and develop shared solutions on innovation priority areas.
You can follow the SusChem Stakeholder event using the hashtag #suschem2016 The event takes place at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels, Belgium. The full programme for the event is available here:

Monday, 13 June 2016

Commission launches ‘Innovation Deals’

At the end of May the European Commission launched a new pilot scheme called the Innovation Deals. The scheme aims to help innovators with promising solutions to environmental issues to navigate regulatory challenges to bring their ideas to market. The initiative was introduced in the margins of the Competitiveness Council meeting that took place on 26 May 2016 by Frans Timmermans, the Commission's First Vice-President, and Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

On May 26 an open invitation was published by the Commission for expressions of interest from projects with strong potential to contribute to the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan. The selected projects will benefit from access to a close cooperation framework bringing together national, local and EU regulatory bodies to help navigate regulatory requirements. This pilot scheme is intended to support innovative ideas for maintaining the value of products, materials and resources in the (circular) economy.

What is an Innovation Deal?
Innovation Deals (IDs) will allow innovators to swiftly address legislative obstacles, shortening the time between their moment of inspiration and market uptake. Innovation Deals will take the form of a voluntary cooperation between the EU, innovators, and national, regional and local authorities. No funding for the preparation or implementation of IDs will be made available by the Commission.

The main aim of an Innovation Deal is to establish an in-depth understanding and clarification of how an EU rule or regulation applies. If a rule or regulation is confirmed as an obstacle to innovations that could bring wider societal benefits, the Deal will make the block visible and feed into possible further action.

The Innovation Deals platform will not jeopardise or compromise any environmental, social or competition principles, existing standards, or national legislation. The Deals aim to be an innovation in how the Commission works, helping to form a more modern and responsive administration in line with the Commission's Better Regulation Agenda.

Invitation to innovation
The call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the pilot phase of the ‘Innovation Deals for a Circular Economy’ opened on 26 May and will close on 15 September 2016. Up to five Expressions of Interest will be selected between October and December and will become Innovation Deals. Signature of the selected Innovation Deals is envisaged for the beginning of 2017 with an evaluation of the project being made in mid-2018.

In addition, up to ten Innovation Deals may originate through the Horizon 2020 Calls CIRC-01 (Systemic, eco-innovative approaches for the circular economy: large-scale demonstration projects) and CIRC-02 (Water in the context of the circular economy) that have been announced as part of the Work Programme 2016/2017 under the identifier ‘Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy’.

Applicants will be asked to outline their innovations and identify where they think EU regulatory frameworks are causing a block in getting their innovation to market.

The application to submit Expressions of Interest can be found here.

The chemical sector itself is also working with the Commission to identify regulatory barriers that are hindering the deployment of innovative technologies (both technologies developed by chemical companies or that could be implemented in the chemical sector). The scope of these regulatory issues includes those relevant to the Circular Economy and will to contribute to the sector’s discussions on Better Regulation with the European Commission in the future.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Materials focus

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be Materials. In this blog Anne Chloe Devic (pictured below right), Cefic Innovation Manager responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines the field, its many areas of innovation for sustainable chemistry and how you can participate in the discussion at #suschem16.

Materials is one of the five SusChem priority areas for innovation. There are at least two European Commission policy areas that relate closely to materials. One is ‘Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy’ and the second is the Energy Union with its Strategic Energy Technology (SET) plan. SusChem has defined its priority areas for research and innovation in materials as materials for energy efficiency, materials for low carbon electricity production, and materials for energy storage.

However, these three application areas remain very wide and SusChem wants to narrow down the priorities in order to maximise impact. Therefore SusChem is looking to engage its stakeholders to support and contribute to refining and defining the top priorities for sustainable chemistry in the materials domain.

In the next few month a SusChem working group, currently being formed, will discuss and propose the priorities that SusChem will put forward for inclusion in future calls of Horizon 2020 (and beyond) and other European and National collaborative research and innovation programmes.

Materials and Energy
The chemical industry is a key solution provider for many value chains and other industry sectors that are aligned with the priorities outlined in the fifth pillar (research and innovation) of the Energy Union.

Sustainable chemistry provides technologies and advanced materials for:

  • Enabling the EU to be a world leader in renewable energy. This includes providing advanced materials 
    • for sustainable production of renewable electricity, for example new composites for wind turbine blades and materials for photovoltaic technologies that include the recycling of these materials, 
    • for energy storage, for example: electrical energy storage - materials for advanced batteries; chemical energy storage - advanced materials and process technologies such as H2 and CO2 based energy carriers via power-to-gas and power-to-liquid technologies; and thermal energy storage - phase change materials or reversible thermochemical reactions.
  • Efficient energy conservation solutions to make the future and existing building stock energy neutral. This includes: advanced materials for thermal insulation, efficient lighting, and phase change materials amongst others.
  • More sustainable transport systems through the use of lightweight materials as a solution to enable lower carbon transport. This includes innovation in ‘light-weighting’ technologies in terms of both materials and process technologies that can play a vital role to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in transport. Composite materials, such as fibre reinforced plastics (FRP that can be carbon or glass reinforced) have a significant potential for weight reduction in vehicles. They can offer light weight benefits in comparison to other structural metallic materials, while maintaining high mechanical properties. In addition hybrid materials, combining composites and metals, with appropriate joining technologies, can reduce vehicle weight. Materials development for more fuel efficient tyres and advanced battery technologies are also important.

Materials and the Circular Economy 
The development of innovative advanced materials by the chemical sector is essential to enable a better use of existing resources along the whole life cycle of products and services, and to develop new production and recycling process paths.

The development of materials enabling ‘eco-design’ of products is required to address very demanding requirements in terms of performance in downstream applications, including better recyclability. New technological development of materials is often carried out by the chemical industry in collaboration with its value chain partners to provide improved / desired material characteristics and to enable more recyclable end-use products.

For this design and development process to be effective, sustainability assessment over the whole life cycle of the product needs to be considered. The evaluation of environmental impact should consider all environmental aspects including energy and water.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on materials for energy, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is still open, but will be closing soon. This dedicated registration website includes all the information you will need to attend the event.

You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: Bioeconomy focus

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be SusChem and the sustainable bioeconomy. In this blog Flavio Benedito, SusChem secretary and Cefic Innovation Manager (pictured below) responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines the field, its many areas of innovation for sustainable chemistry and how you can participate in the discussion on the sustainable bioeconomy at #suschem16.

A sustainable bioeconomy is one of the five SusChem priority areas for innovation. The European Commission sees the bioeconomy as Europe's response to the key environmental challenges that the world is facing today. Promoting the bioeconomy will help to reduce Europe’s dependence on natural resources, transform manufacturing, promote sustainable production of renewable resources and encourage their conversion into food, feed, fibre, biobased products and bioenergy, while growing new jobs and industries.

Over the coming decades, the world will witness increased competition for limited and finite natural resources. A 70% increase of the world food supply will be  required to feed the nine billion global population by 2050.

A transition will be needed towards an optimal use of renewable biological resources. We must move towards sustainable primary production and processing systems that can produce more food, fibre and other biobased products with fewer inputs, less environmental impact and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Managed in a sustainable manner, the bioeconomy can help build a more competitive, innovative and prosperous Europe by:
  • sustaining a wide range of public goods, including biodiversity and ecosystem services,
  • reducing the environmental footprint of primary production and the supply chain as a whole
  • increasing competitiveness,
  • enhancing Europe's self-reliance, and
  • providing jobs and business opportunities.
SusChem and the bioeconomy
A sustainable bioeconomy features in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) encompassing the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and associated waste streams into value-added products such as feed, food, biobased products and bioenergy.

Integrated biorefineries are central to the development of the bioeconomy and were one SusChem’s original flagship innovation concepts. They can deliver new sources of chemical building blocks that are either structurally similar to fossil-based feedstock or new with novel functionalities and improved properties. In order to unlock the full potential of a sustainable biomass supply, it is essential to consider all possible sources including second generation biomass and waste streams (such as municipal wastes). The bioeconomy can improve resource efficiency and is a key element in achieving the broader concept of a circular, integrated, renewable economy.

Innovation is also a key solution provider for the transition to a more Circular Economy and the development by the chemical sector of innovative advanced materials and process technologies is essential to enable a better use of existing resources along the whole life cycle, to develop new production and recycling paths.

SusChem – an essential link
SusChem is an essential link between the chemical industry, industrial biotechnology and stakeholders in the bioeconomy and is actively involved in two large and relevant PPPs between the European Commission and industry that were launched in 2014: the ‘Biobased Industries’ (BBI) Joint Undertaking that brings together research and industry partners along the whole value chain of biobased products and focuses on innovation for products from biobased feedstock; and the ‘Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency’ (SPIRE) PPP that provides a solid basis for academia, SMEs, and multinational companies to collaborate on cross-sectorial initiatives in these areas.

SusChem contributes to the alignment of both initiatives and recently participated in the successful BBI Info Day.

The interface between BBI and SPIRE is the provision and use of biobased platform chemicals. In addition, both PPPs may support projects using biotechnological conversion processes and specific improvements of biotechnology processes may be eligible for funding through either PPP. SusChem is working to ensure the coherence of on-going and future funding initiatives and the deployment of flagship projects that demonstrate technological leadership and that Europe is a globally competitive location to invest in the bioeconomy.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on water treatment, reuse and management, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. This dedicated registration website includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels - the venue for the event.

You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.