Towards a sustainable society
In the Paris Climate Accord more than 150 countries have agreed to put measures in place to ensure that the increase in global average temperatures is limited to well below 2 degrees Celsius. This has a large impact on the chemical industry and new pathways and technologies are needed that enable the industry to produce the world’s chemicals and materials with a significant reduction in emissions.
The shift from fossil raw materials to biobased raw materials makes an important contribution to reducing GHG emissions. The use of biobased materials reduces the effect on climate change and contributes to a more sustainable and circular economy. Since biomass is mostly produced by the agricultural sector, this requires cross-sectoral collaboration between industries that were previously disconnected. To develop a biobased value chain, agriculture and forestry must be integrated as supplier of raw materials for the chemical industry. Ensuring food and energy security and the responsible utilization of ecosystems around the world will be paramount for a successful transformation towards a sustainable society.
InSciTe’s solution: Biobased building blocks (4Bs)
InSciTe’s biobased research is built on the strong belief that one of the key answers is to smartly produce materials by developing sustainable production processes for biobased materials from renewable feedstock. InSciTe aims to develop processes that use feedstock which does not compete with the food chain and is abundantly available. InSciTe is focusing its research on the use of woodchips, lignin, furfural, and hemicellulose as feedstocks. This should lead to scaled-up processes in which fossil feedstock is replaced with renewable alternatives and subsequently lead to a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain. As an added benefit, renewable materials may also offer new functionalities (e.g. better material properties) that enhance the value of the product.
Lifecycle analysis (LCA) is an essential exercise to determine whether the total environmental impact of newly developed processes is significantly lower than that currently being used. Thus, an objective assessment of the total lifecycle impact is needed.
A complication is that the development of new production processes requires large capital investments; a far from easy task. Scale-up and debottlenecking is the most costly and complex part of the development of innovative materials and production routes. InSciTe bridges this chasm by developing and piloting new chemistry and technology to pilot scale which reduces the economic and market risk and thus contributes to meeting the Paris goals and making the switch to a circular economy.