Green Chemistry

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ESD, Suikerunie

Closing the loop for green chemistry

The chemical industry is in need of new green building blocks. These need to be developped in a culture of intensive cooperation between knowledge institutions and industry. There are a number of relevant dedicated institutes and research facilities at Chemport Europe, each with its own strength and focus. There is more than new building blocks. Together, all partners are contributing to development circular chains consisting of four components: Feedstock, intermediate chemicals, polymers and materials and recycling. All available in the Northern Netherlands. That is how Chemport Europe is moving towards a circular economy. The waste streams from one company are the valuable raw materials for another company. Material and energy flows are exchanged where possible.Together, partners form a coherent production and innovative ecosystem. The Northern Netherlands is building an ecosystem that really matters. Not just nationally, but globally.

Intermediate chemicals and feedstock

The chemical industry in the Northern parts of the Netherland runs on salt – a natural resource which is mined and for which there is no truly ‘green’ alternative. However, in the production train from basic feedstocks to end product there are many opportunities to turn grey into green. The production of chlorine from salt is the foundation of many chemical processes. Salt is not a truly green feedstock. Nevertheless, the steam used in Delfzijl our chlorine production process is already 70 percent non-fossil. And you can’t have green chemistry without the base chemicals like hydrochloric acid, chlorine and lyme. It is a three step process towards greener chemistry. First, we need to use green energy for the production of our base chemicals. The second step is to use green hydrogen, both as storage of energy and as a feedstock, for example in production of methanol. The third step is to capture carbon dioxide and use this to make green intermediates. Biorefineries can also produce green intermediates as well.

(BIO)POLYMERS AND MATERIALS

In order to make our plastics truly green, biopolymers are needed. Some, like polylactic acid (PLA) are already on the market, others are still under development. Especially in Emmen, biopolymers are rapidly moving to the market. The future for sustainable plastics is in bio based polymers. Ultimately, plastics should be either fully bio based or circular. PLA-based plastics are already on the market and the production volume is increasing. These plastics are biodegradable, but only under industrial conditions. Companies like Senbis use PLA in twine, while Innofil3D makes PLA based filaments for 3D printers. PHA is used to make plastics that are fully biodegradable, even in a garden compost heap. Overall, it will take some time to develop a larger spectrum of biodegradable polymers. The use of these polymers has to grow, and this growth should pick up speed. In Chemical Cluster Emmen, quite a bit of research is done on PHA and other biopolymers. Several companies have found niche markets for which they developed products.

the Challenge

Below, a non-limitative overview of challenges is provided per stage in the value chain:

ESD

COLLABORATE WITH ESD TO DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE BIOCOKE FROM BIO-BASED RAW MATERIALS

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suikerunie

SUIKERUNIE

WORK WITH SUIKERUNIE TO VALORIZATE SUCROSE FROM SUGAR BEET INTO BIO-POLYMERS TO PRODUCE SUSTAINABLE PLASTICS