On 7 July 2020, the European Alliance against Coronavirus organized a webinar dedicated to the Chemical Industrial Modernization S3P partnership to explore solutions and experiences to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 crisis in the chemical sector. ECRN and three lead chemical regions of the S3Platform presented their activities and projects demonstrating how cooperation is essential to overcome the disruptions in European value chains, increase the competitiveness, and bring new investors to the projects of the S3P thematic partnerships.
Monika Banka, Network Coordinator of ECRN, opened the webinar giving an introduction on ECRN activities and on the work of the Chemical regions S3Partnership. Formed under the European Chemical Regions Network (ECRN), the Chemical S3P partnership has established a portfolio of common projects and regional joint investments, with the objective of modernization of the chemical industry to a sustainable, energy- and resource-efficient sector that is globally competitive and that provides innovative solutions. Cluster and business representatives, including national/regional chemical industry association representatives, as well as research organizations have been involved in the Working Group Meetings and are gradually being acquainted with the aims of the partnership, and contribute to the discussions on regional needs and potentials.
Among the projects developed under the partnership three were presented during the webinar:
Chemelot Circular Hub
The Circular Hub aims to transform the Limburg Region into a circular society, with the Chemelot chemical industrial area and the associated Brightlands research and development campus as the beating heart. Limburg will be the first European circular hub where residents, SMEs and industry treat people, raw materials, energy sources, and space with care. The Circular Hub Development Agenda has been drawn up by a broad alliance consisting of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen, the Province of Limburg, Chemelot Industriepark, Brightlands Chemelot campus, DSM, Brightsite, Brightlands Materials Center, AMI-BM, Maastricht University, Zuyd Hogeschool, Vista and CHILL.
Bi-Rex – Valorization of agro-food biomass to recover alternative feedstock using Deep Eutectic Solvents
The project Bi-rex aims to create wood-free cellulose with the valorization of different agri-food waste by an innovative process for the recovery of biomass-derived feedstocks (such as cellulose, lignin, hemicellulose, chitin…), using a new class of green solvents referred to as DES (Deep Eutectic Solvents). Developed by Nowal Chimica, the process is expected to be fully eco-sustainable. It does not use toxic or corrosive solvents and reagents and it is energy efficient working at low temperature and atmospheric pressure.
Flow Chemistry Interregional Hub (FCIH)
Flow chemistry is the development and study of chemical reactions whereby reactants are combined by pumping fluids, including solutions of reagents, though tubes at known rates and controlled temperature by ACCIÓ – Agency for Business Competitiveness. The relative proportions of the reactants are controlled by their concentrations and relative flow rates. While continuous (flow) production is the norm in petrochemicals and part of bulk chemicals, until recently pharmaceutical and fine chemicals (with more complex molecules and multi-step synthesis) were produced exclusively in batch. Currently, there is a strong push towards flow chemistry in these sectors, with big pharma and fine chemicals multi-national companies (agrochemicals) leading the move, and mid-sized companies lagging behind.
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