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23 November 2015

Interview about the bio-based chemical industry in Europe

In a interview on the occasion of EFIB 2015, two bio-based experts – Pierre Barthelemy, from CEFIC, and Henrike Gebhardt, from Evonik – share their opinion on the developments of the bio-based chemical industry in Europe.

“The chemical industry regards the developments in the bio-based economy as one of the opportunities for innovation towards more sustainable products. We have to be careful that “bio-based” is not per definition more sustainable than “fossil-based”: there needs to be an evaluation of the sustainability of the chemical industry’s products and processes based on complete LCA analyses and taking into account the three pillars of sustainability (environmental, economic and social),” says Pierre Barthelemy, from CEFIC.

For Henrike Gebhardt, from Evonik, “most of the major chemicals companies recognize the innovative potential of the feedstock shift for the development of novel chemicals and efficient production processes.” And he adds that “the chemicals industry realizes that bio-based raw materials can make a significant contribution to the reduction of the environmental footprint.”

To read the full interview, visit the EFIB website

9 November 2015

BioSTEP launches a questionnaire on challenges related to the bioeconomy

The BioSTEP project (ISIB-8a) has launched a consultation on existing challenges surrounding the development and strengthening of the European bioeconomy and potential measures to address them.

The questionnaire comprises one part of BioSTEP's consultative process and will help the consortium of the project to understand how different actors perceive the challenges, opportunities and policy gaps surrounding the development and strengthening of national and regional bioeconomy strategies. The results will inform the design of three policy workshops, which BioSTEP will organise in 2016. The outcome of this process will be a list of targeted policy recommendations for the (further) development of balanced and informed bioeconomy strategies at the regional, national and European levels.

BioSTEP is an EU-funded project that aims to promote a participative governance of the European bioeconomy through the engagement of stakeholders and citizens. The project was launched in March 2015 and will runt until February 2018.

2 November 2015

New bio-based lightweight material is unveiled

A composite demonstrator based on 100 percent softwood lignin has been developed by the Swedish research institutes Innventia and Swerea SICOMP. The demonstrator – a sandwich structure in which balsa wood is laminated with carbon fibre – is the first proof that it is possible to manufacture lignin-based carbon fibre, even if this is still only on a laboratory scale.

The main feature of carbon fibre composites is that they are strong and light, so they have many applications. Due to its high cost, demand is still limited. By introducing cost-effective lignin-based carbon fibre, the material could be used in traditional cars and other bulk products. Lighter cars would have positive environmental impacts, as fuel consumption would be reduced.

"We believe in the large-scale production of lightweight materials, and the manufacturing methods for composites must therefore become more cost-effective. There's no reason to believe that today's fossil-based carbon fibres can't be replaced directly with lignin carbon fibre in these production processes," says Birgitha Nyström, Research Leader for Materials Technology at Swerea SICOMP.

For more information, visit Innventia website.