Author: Nikola Benin
Over 450 000 enterprises and around 6.8 million jobs are dependent on Europe’s process sector, which includes chemicals, engineering, minerals and ore, non-ferrous metals, steel and water. The process industries, which generate more than EUR 1.6 billion in annual turnover and represent 20% of the EU’s total industrial production, are absolutely vital to Europe’s economy and long-term industrial competitiveness.
However, these vital industries have to face the key challenge of reducing their high dependency on resources. Although energy efficiency in industry across the EU has gradually improved (by an average of 1.8% per year up until 2009), there is still much work to do to encourage the uptake of cleaner technologies, more efficient methods and better industrial procedures to reduce environmental impact.
Achieving a better environmental footprint for the process industries is now even more pressing due to the EU’s target to cut its emissions to at least 40% of 1990 levels as a part of its comprehensive 2030 climate and energy framework. In April 2016, the EU also formally signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21), formally committing the Union to fully embracing the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The CORDIS Results Pack showcases some SusChem-inspired and EU-funded projects that have taken up the challenge of developing the novel methods and enabling technologies that will increase energy efficiency in industrial processes.
Examples include the implementation of more sustainable and less-resource dependent manufacturing methods, the design and optimisation of new and accurate computational frameworks and software, and the cultivation of better international cooperation.
The full list of projects described in the package is:
- MORE developed new tools to help large plants achieve resource efficiencies including new resource efficiency indicators and software that can be easily integrated into large processing plants in order to achieve optimal daily performance.
- TOP-REF worked on novel resource indicators and tools for competitive and sustainable continuous processing that will lead to the substantial improvement of resource efficiency in energy intensive industrial processes within the agro-chemical, chemical and petrochemical industries.
- MAPSYN researched new techniques to energise the EU chemical industry through new energy sources and catalysts that can achieve cost efficient, high yield chemical production and boost competitiveness.
- CYCLICCO2 was one of the first project to investigate conversion of carbon dioxide into commercially viable chemicals in a sustainable way that could be scaled-up for energy efficient industrial use.
- ALTEREGO helped to ‘green-up’ the chemical industry with efficient alternative energy sources including ultrasound, microwave and non-thermal plasma technologies to power chemical processes, replacing fossil fuels and achieving higher levels of energy efficiency.
- R4R used stronger regional cooperation to drive innovation in energy and resource efficiency forward in Europe’s chemical and processing industries.
- InnoREX looked to accelerate the production of ‘green’ biobased plastic polymers in an environmentally-friendly, energy efficient and commercially viable process.
- COOPOL produced new monitoring tools for more efficient polymer processing in the chemicals sector that will improve polymerisation reaction quality and provide new continuous production methods.
- E4WATER helped to cut water use in the European chemical industry by creating novel systems and processes and make the European chemical sector more competitive.
- OPTICO developed an adaptive and integrated computational framework for intensified processes in the chemical and biochemical industries consisting of multi-scale, multi-phase phenomena-based modelling technologies, and advanced process analytical tools.