To be sustainable the European chemical industry must reduce its dependence on, largely imported, petroleum and gas feedstock and address the scarcity of other critical raw materials.
In particular, the industry will need to embrace new sources of feedstock such as biomass and waste streams including using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a carbon source.
The transition to alternative, more sustainable feedstock needs to consider a number of factors like the global value chain for developing new feedstock, new chemical transformation pathways and processing technologies and methods to reduce the volume of materials used.
The widespread adoption of biobased feedstock will require the development of new supply chains for production and delivery, and the design of new highly efficient biochemical reaction pathways and processing technologies that are able to adapt to varying feedstock quality.
The use of CO2 as an alternative carbon feedstock could be a solution to reduce the use of fossil fuels. CO2 from industrial flue gas can be used to produce chemicals, polymers and inorganic materials and fuels. In that case we will need appropriate catalysts and processes including for the effective recovery of CO2 from industrial streams. CO2 technologies could also act as effective energy storage solutions, based on the power to liquid and power to gas concepts.
Europe has defined a set of Critical Raw Materials (CRM) to which it has vulnerable access and if their supply was constrained this could have a significant impact on the development of new technologies, from renewable energy to electronics. The chemical industry will provide innovative solutions to reduce dependency on CRM, through efficient and environmentally-friendly recycling or simply reducing the amount of materials used. We will also develop materials or technologies that can substitute for CRM across a range of applications.