Wednesday, 28 September 2016

SusChem: Opinion on Green and Sustainable Chemistry

The first issue of Elsevier's Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry contains an article from SusChem on the 'European chemical industry's contribution to sustainable development' by Pierre Barthelemy and Esther Agyeman-Budu. The paper was presented at the inaugural Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference that took place in Berlin on 3 to 6 April. SusChem board member Prof Klaus Kümmerer, Director of the Institute for Sustainable and Environmental Chemistry at Leuphana University Lüneburg was the chair of the conference organising committee.

The paper examines the role of chemical research and innovation as a key enabling factor in achieving a sustainable and equitable global society and shows how the European chemical sector is a key player in the global chemical and pharmaceutical market and has been working to improve its own sustainability for many decades.

The paper features how initiatives such as SusChem are developing new solutions that will further reduce the environmental impact of the sector, while boosting its energy and resource efficiency, and introducing new materials and processes based on renewable resources for use by society. Moreover these innovative solutions catalyse sustainability in other sectors and value chains and will help realise concepts such as a truly circular economy. Finally the paper shows how effective implementation of such solutions requires close cooperation between government, industry and research bodies.

SusChem blog readers can access the full article for free here until 9 October 2016. The link will take you to the article on ScienceDirect. No sign up or registration should be needed - just click and read!

Current opinion
Elsevier’s Current Opinion series of journals were developed out of the recognition that it is increasingly difficult for specialists to keep up to date with the expanding volume of information published in their subject.

Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry covers:
  • The views of experts on current advances in Green and Sustainable Chemistry in a clear and readable form.
  • Evaluations of the most interesting papers, annotated by experts, from the great wealth of original publications.
  • All chemical aspects along the life cycle of chemicals as well chemical products and materials, for example resources, synthesis, use and after life issues.
Full article title: European chemical industry's contribution to sustainable development. Article reference: COGSC10 Journal title: Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry Corresponding author: Dr. Pierre Barthelemy. Full bibliographic details: Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry  (2016), pp. 28-32 DOI information: 10.1016/j.cogsc.2016.08.002

Monday, 26 September 2016

SusChem 2016 Brokerage in Seville breaks records!

The SusChem 2016 Brokerage event took place in Seville on 13 September and was attended by some 100 participants including SusChem Board Member Fernando Moreno who presented the introduction to the event and Soren Bowadt Programme Officer at DG Research and Innovation who is SusChem’s primary contact in the Commission. At the start of the Project Ideas Session Anne Chloe Devic, the Coordinator for SusChem National Technology Platforms, welcomed the speakers to the first SusChem European brokerage event ever organised outside of Brussels

The Brokerage event was hosted in Spain thanks to SusChem Spain, in conjunction with one of the biggest events of the year for the chemical community: the Sixth European Chemistry Congress. Our thanks to Cristina Gonzalez, the secretary of SusChem Spain, who was the prime mover in organising the event and acted as the chair of the meeting.

In the opening presentation, Fernando Moreno stressed the importance of such brokerage events and recalled the essential role that SMEs are playing in the formation of new projects. Soren Bowadt reviewed the policy context for the Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing and Processing, and Biotechnology (NMBP) programme in Horizon 2020 and stressed the importance of the SPIRE and BBI PPPs, with which SusChem is very much aligned.

He made an overview of those projects that succeeded in obtaining grants in the 2014-2015 calls, gave an indicative overview of funding by the Commission for the last remaining years of Horizon 2020 and then detailed the 2017 calls, which were the main subject of the event. Soren also gave some hints on how to prepare a good project proposal.

The event continued with the presentation of 22 proposals, out of which 19 were from companies - including from 13 SMEs. This is a record in terms of the proportion of industrial participation and specifically participation by SMEs.

Another record that was broken at the event was the number of bilateral meetings requested on the Connexme application, which reached 100!

And last but not least, a lively speed-dating session took place that continued right up to the closing of the event. We hope that the event will lead to the birth of many new and successful projects!

You can now download all the authorised presentations from the event, including the ideas presentations, here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

#useCO2: Economics and Valorisation

Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU) is a topic of growing interest around the world and as reported earlier a CO2 Forum panel on 'Impacts, Policies and Strategies of CDU' took place on September 15 in conjunction with the four-day International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (ICCDU) in Sheffield, UK.  The ICCDU is now organised as an annual event in response to the growing interest CDU in the academic community. ICCDU 2017 will take place in Shanghai. The CO2 Forum enjoyed a high level of representation from industry with presentations and participation in the debates from companies including Covestro, Carbon8, Total, 3M, and Sunfire.

The high level of debate was reinforced by the presence of delegates from the IEA and IASS Postdam. In addition several partners from the SusChem supported SCOT project were also present and discussed the conclusions and recommendations of their project.

This year, the CO2 Forum was truly international with the participation of a some US delegates sharing views and highlighting additional and currently less known up scaling projects such as Skyonic in the US and CarbFix in Iceland.

CDU (or #useCO2) approaches are a medium to long-term research and innovation priority of SusChem and are featured in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). SusChem inspired #useCO2 calls have been included in Horizon 2020 work programmes including those developed through the SPIRE PPP such as SPIRE calls 05-2016 and 08-2017.

Economic issues
Although more #useCO2 projects are being announced, the economics of CO2 valorisation remains a significant issue in the current conditions. More incentives and support schemes are needed to support technology development and demonstration of CDU technologies at the large scale.

Pierre Barthelemy, Executive Director Research and Innovation at Cefic participated in a panel debate at the CO2 Forum and highlighted the need for support across all Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), in particular financial support is needed beyond TRL 7 (defined as 'system prototype demonstration in operational environment' under Horizon 2020). He also called for an appropriate regulatory framework that supports #useCO2 business cases.

Inevitably the discussion at the CO2 Forum also included the potential for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), however the slow development of this technology was highlighted. By 2025, CCS projects currently in the pipeline could capture only 10% of what is required to support the two degree scenario (2DS) discussed at COP21 in Paris. Clearly no technological option should be rejected and more innovation is needed to meet the challenge of climate change.

Club CO2 seminar
The technical and economic issues around #useCO2 projects will also be the subject of the second CO2 reuse seminar organised by ClubCO2 with the support of ADEME and the CO2Forum. This event takes place on 21 October 2016 in Lyon, France and will focus on the question: What are the economic and environmental benefits of CO2 reuse? The first ClubCO2 seminar was organised in Le Havre in May 2015, Club CO2.

The morning session (to be conducted in English) will present the current position and prospects for the policy-making, regulatory and economic aspects of CO2 reuse and analyses of the economic and environmental benefits of different CO2 conversion processes, based on industrial applications.

The afternoon parallel expert sessions will be organised in English and French speaking workshops with the aim of discussing and highlighting the conditions for the successful emergence of CO2 transformation technologies.

You can find more information about the Club CO2 seminar here and registration for the event can be found here.

The ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) founded Club CO2 in 2002 with the support of the IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN - formerly French Petroleum Institute) and BRGM (Bureau of Geological and Mineral Research). Since 19 March 2016, Club CO2 has been a non-profit association registered under French law to bring together industry and research organisations in this area.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Solar-Driven Chemistry: A New Paradigm?

At present, despite advances in the production and diversity of biobased products and the increasing use of renewable energy sources, the chemical industry depends largely on fossil carbon resources for its main energy source and feedstock. A new White Paper launched by EuCheMS and DFG on 12 September at the 6th European Chemical Congress shows how it could be possible to drive chemical reactions using the energy of the sun and help guarantee a sustainable future.

This vision of solar-driven chemistry offers a long-term innovative scientific and technological endeavour to achieve sustainable chemical production through “recycling” carbon by converting CO2 into chemicals, materials and fuels.

Such #useCO2 approaches are also a medium to long-term research and innovation priority of SusChem and are featured in the SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). SusChem inspired #useCO2 calls have been included in Horizon 2020 work programmes including those developed through the SPIRE PPP such as SPIRE calls 05-2016 and 08-2017.

The report was published in the same week as the 14th International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization (CDU) was being held at the University of Sheffield in the UK. Today (15 September) on the final day of the conference Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director, Research and Innovation at Cefic, will contribute to a CO2 Forum panel on 'Impacts, Policies And Strategies of CDU'. He will argue that beyond research and innovation challenges successful industrial deployment of #useCO2 technologies will require high levels of industrial symbiosis, significant investment and the right policy framework to deliver the desired impact.

Solar vision
The 'Solar-Driven Chemistry: A Vision for Sustainable Chemistry Production' paper describes how the primary feedstocks for solar-driven chemistry are water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, while the main products would be molecular hydrogen and a series of carbon-based chemical compounds obtained through the simultaneous reduction of CO2.

Such solar-driven chemistry is a visionary concept, for which many scientific and technical problems remain to be solved. Technology transfer from fundamental chemical research to industrial applications can take decades, however, intermediate short- and medium-term objectives, which are necessary to enable the long-term goal, can also generate new knowledge, which will provide wider benefits to society and an improvement to industrial competitiveness, claims the paper.

From EuCheMS / DFG report

Radical paradigm
The paper claims that solar-driven chemistry could be a radical paradigm shift in chemical production, which could have a high, positive impact on the competitiveness and sustainability of European industry. It has the potential to contribute significantly to a fossil-independent supply of feedstock for the chemical industry and to greener fuels for all applications. Solar-driven chemistry can create knowledge-driven competitiveness for Europe’s industrial production, while preserving jobs and the environment.

In order to accomplish this ambitious goal, a broad and inclusive action driven by the chemical science community is needed that requires a large integrated and synergistic approach covering catalysis, electrochemistry, photochemistry, nanosciences, in concert with semiconductor physics, engineering, biosciences and social sciences. Implementation of solar-driven chemistry is a big challenge, but one that could have a high impact for future generations, not only in science, industry and economy, but also within society as a whole, the paper concludes.

More information
The document is based on the presentations from a brainstorming workshop on ‘Solar-driven Chemistry’ that took place on 9 October 2015 in Berlin jointly organised by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the European Association of Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS).

DFG is the self-governing organisation for funding science and research in Germany whose membership includes German research universities, non-university research institutions, scientific associations and the Academies of Science and the Humanities.

EuCheMS aims to nurture a platform for scientific discussion and to provide a single, unbiased European voice on key policy issues in chemistry and related fields.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

G20 backs Innovation for Sustainable Growth

At the recent G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China the world’s leading nations adopted the G20 2016 Innovation ActionPlan. The ambitious plan underlines the recognition by G20 leaders of the need to “further advance innovation and assist member countries to create innovative ecosystems” in order to foster innovation-driven growth. This approach is broadly welcomed by SusChem as a long-time advocate of the need for innovation to drive sustainable development. “Sustainable chemistry is a major driving force for innovation in Europe and beyond and essential for smart and sustainable growth across all sectors,” said Pierre Barthélemy, Executive Director, Research and Innovation at Cefic.

In their
issued at the end of the summit, the G20 leaders highlight that “in the long run, innovation is a key driver of growth for both individual countries and the global economy as a whole” and commit to pursue pro-innovation strategies, policies and measures supporting investment in science, technology and innovation.

The G20 communique noted that “To achieve innovation-driven growth and the creation of innovative ecosystems, we support dialogue and cooperation on innovation, which covers a wide range of domains with science and technology innovation at its core” and “commit to pursue pro-innovation strategies and policies, support investment in science, technology and innovation (STI), and support skills training for STI - including support for the entry of more women into these fields - and mobility of STI human resources”.

Pierre Barthélemy Executive Director R&I, Cefic
Commenting on the communique Pierre Barthélemy (left) said: “To truly tackle and solve our current societal challenges, Europe’s innovation landscape needs to be driven by a holistic approach. Innovation is not only about new technology development, it’s also about new ways of working together, having a workforce with the necessary skill-set, the integration of technology and working along value chains. This is the European chemical sector’s view on innovation.”

“Through its products and processes, innovation from the chemical industry is a major driving force for innovation as a whole in Europe and is essential for smart and sustainable growth across all sectors,” he continued.

The G20 also stressed that “growth, to be strong, sustainable and balanced, must also be inclusive… we place sustainable development high on the G20 agenda” and “reaffirm our commitment to further align our work with the universal implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

A 2016 G20 Innovation Report will also be produced and released. As well as the Innovation Action Plan the G20 also published a G20 Blueprint on Innovative Growth at the Summit.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

First SuperBIO Workshop on Valorisation of Residues

The new Horizon 2020 project SuperBIO is running its first Thematic Workshop on ‘Valorisation of Residues from Intensive Horticulture’. The workshop is free and is taking place on 12 September 2016 at the Centre for Technological Research and Innovation in Seville. The following day is, of course, the SusChem Brokerage event in Seville and SuperBIO will also be there and available for B2B discussions.

SuperBIO is an innovation project supported through the Horizon 2020 funding programme. The € 3.8 million project supports the development of promising industrial value chains in the bioeconomy and engages with the EU biobased business community. The SuperBIO consortium includes four industrial cluster organisations (from Belgium, France, Spain and Poland), and six service providers (from the UK, Germany and Belgium). 

The workshop kicks off at 15:30h with a description of the SuperBIO project from Dr. Gloria de la Viña from project partner Corporación Tecnológica de Andalucía (CTA). This is followed by a discussion on SuperBIO Support to SMEs with Dr. Holger Bengs of BCNP Consultants GmbH, Dr. Lieve Hoflack from Bio Base Europe pilot plant and Dr. Caitlin Burns of NNFCC. 

Examples of the valorisation of agricultural and horticultural residues from a range of Horizon 2020 projects will then be presented. 

Dr. Francisco Egea from Almería University will describe the biomass potential of intensive horticulture followed by discussion of Biotechnological valorisation of horticulture residues by Dr. Javier Velasco of NEOL S.A and the final presentation will be on a success story showcasing horticultural bioproducts that are already in the market. The workshop will close at ~17:50h

You can find more information on the event website, including a downloadable programme, and you can register directly here. The registration also includes a booking option to schedule meetings with SuperBIO representatives at the SusChem Brokerage event on 13 September.

About SuperBIO
SuperBIO’s strategic vision is to build new industrial value chains by integrating and supporting groups of SMEs in collaboration with other innovation actors.

The project aims to:
  • create open collaboration spaces for SMEs, Larger Enterprises (LEs) and other stakeholders in the biobased economy
  • identify new industrial value chain concepts maximizing the benefits for EU business and citizens
  • construct highly promising, disruptive and sustainable new industrial value chains by selecting synergistic groups of SMEs, LEs and other stakeholders, and
  • provide a diverse, stepwise and comprehensive innovation support programme that enables the efficient and optimal validation of new value chains and brings them closer to the market. 
The SuperBIO project main objective is to build at least 10 new biobased value chains around innovative and promising ideas from the business community. In addition, SuperBIO will offer innovation services to at least 30 third-party SMEs that are part of identified value chains.

To further innovate in the EU bioeconomy, new partnerships and connections need to be established between different sectors (for example between chemistry and agriculture, between producers and end-users). SuperBIO helps to build these connections by engaging with the wider biobased business community. It supports cross sectorial and cross border industrial value chain building and provides innovation support services to SMEs.

Industrial stakeholders are invited to submit their idea for an innovative value chain to the SuperBIO project. The consortium ensures that their information will be treated as confidential throughout the process. The combined expertise in the biobased economy and skills of the consortium enable them to identify promising ideas for new innovative value chains. SuperBIO then supports cross sectorial and cross border development of the value chain of the selected ideas.

Once a value chain is created SuperBIO analyses the gaps to be filled and further requirements to bring this value chain closer to the market. Based on this, SuperBIO offers selected innovation services to SMEs that are part of the value chain. Six services providers are included in the consortium offering a combined set of 10 different professional innovation services: scale-up and proof-of-concept, IP support, life cycle assessment, techno-economic evaluation, feedstock analysis, market research, sustainability advice, business planning, access to investors and grant writing. These services are funded by the project for 75%, the remaining 25% being covered by the SME receiving the service.

This project will lead to the implementation of new value chains, the production of drop-in biobased chemicals and products and/ or the production of new chemicals and products with improved features. It can lead to investments in dedicated industrial production sites for the new value chains, for example via ESIF funds, and therefore provide leverage for the re-industrialisation of the EU using innovative technologies.

In brief, SuperBIO offers a unique opportunity to bring innovative, sustainable, cross border and cross sectorial biobased value chains closer to the market.

For more information on the SuperBIO project and the scope of its innovation services visit the project website (under construction).

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Sustainable Future through Catalysis?

Europe is a leading player in terms of research on catalysis as well in the industrial implementation of catalytic technologies, however this leadership is under threat due to fragmentation of effort, insufficient coordination between European and country-based activities, a declining level of funding for fundamental research in some European countries, and a lack of large-scale infrastructures dedicated to catalysis. Now the European Cluster on Catalysis initiative has published its new Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe report ‘Science and Technology Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe’ that outlines a clear path forward. Catalysis has always been seen as a key chemical technology for SusChem and many SusChem members were closely involved in the development of this report.

This roadmap and the activities of the European Cluster on Catalysis have the ambitious objective to define a new path to create a sustainable future through catalysis. The process is bottom-up as it starts with national roadmaps and inputs from all across Europe and develops a common vision and highlights strategies to reach the challenges facing industry and society in a transitional period to a new economic cycle.

The ‘Science and Technology Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe’ report provides that long term vision and an action plan to support catalysis research in the EU and identifies the key actions that must be undertaken at European level in the next ten years in the field of catalysis.

These are:

  • Identify the best catalyst/process-related opportunities;
  • Accelerate R&D that improves energy efficiency;
  • Facilitate R&D on game changers with partners that lower barriers and operating costs;
  • Undertake or stimulate academic and national laboratory research on large-volume/high-energy use processes;
  • Promote synergies and cohesion between research groups on catalysis through the use of flagship initiatives

Catalysis – a key enabler
Catalysis is one of the key cross-cutting and enabling disciplines for the chemical and other process industries. Catalytic materials are crucial to reducing environmental burdens today and in the future and can help to make products greener and more sustainable, to reduce CO2 emissions and address future energy challenges. The first ‘Science and Technology Roadmap on Catalysis for Europe’ provides valuable input for the elaboration of future research policies in this area.

The report first introduces the vision of the roadmap, based on analysis of a scenario for sustainable production of chemistry and energy vectors and provides some long-term strategic goals. The role and relevance of catalysis is discussed and aspects identified that will dominate the future production of sustainable chemical and energy vectors and other critical areas for catalysis use.

Based on this analysis the report then identifies the grand challenges for catalysis and discusses possible implementation options. These challenges for catalysis, aiming to address societal, environmental and industrial demands, are grouped in three main topic areas:

  • Catalysis to address the evolving energy and chemical scenario
  • Catalysis for a cleaner and sustainable future
  • Addressing catalysis complexity

The following section analyses the strategic research agenda and related implementation action plan for these grand challenges identifying the key aspects, and related challenges and opportunities for catalysis, the main research areas and required outputs.

Catalysis is a key enabling technology for a cleaner and sustainable future, and the report focuses on intensifying research in this areas. Two main directions are identified in the roadmap:

  • Catalysis for eco-technologies, from air to water and waste, to address stationary to mobile; this area includes the aspects of photocatalysis related to depollution
  • Catalysis to improve sustainability of chemical processes, in terms of atom economy and improved processes to produce the main intermediates and chemical products/monomers

The report proposes that to foster innovation in catalysis impact and address the identified societal challenges requires a knowledge-based approach and enhanced capabilities in four main areas:

  • Advanced design of novel catalysts
  • Understanding catalysts from molecular to material scale
  • Expanding process concepts including catalysis
  • A scientific approach to link advanced design to catalyst scale-up and manufacturing

You can download the full report here.

More information
The European Cluster on Catalysis initiative was launched by the European Commission and brings together a number of SusChem inspired and EU-funded projects in the field of catalysis with research organisations and academic institutions as well as industrial and other relevant European stakeholders in the field. For the cluster the term catalysis encompasses many ‘flavours’ of catalysis including heterogeneous, homogeneous, photocatalysis, electrocatalysis, and biocatalysis together with corresponding chemical technologies such as CO2utilisation, artificial photosynthesis, biogenic materials, and water technologies.

For more information on SusChem initiatives in the field of catalysis contact Martin Winter at Cefic.