Objectives and content
The European Chemical Industry has always been a major contributor to the health and prosperity of the European Industrial base and accounted for just greater than 2% of the West European GDP. The European chemical industry accounts for 11.5% of manufacturing turnover 10% of value added and almost 8% of the manufacturing workforce (CEFIC data for 1993).
At present this industry is heavily dependent on non-renewable petroleum based feed stocks which are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Alternative feed-stocks could be provided from renewable bio- materials such as carbohydrates from sources such as wood, straw, potatoes corn etc. which are freely available within Europe. Products derived from these raw materials offer advantages in the following areas:
- Environmental - The use of renewable biodegradable raw materials, minimisation of pollution from petroleum feed-stocks
- Economic - Potentially a lower cost
- Technological - Potential for novel improved formulations The chemistry of carbohydrates offers great potential for novel and innovative products. - Social - The use of European sourced biosustainable raw materials would have positive effects on employment in the agricultural sector.
It is the objective of the project to evaluate new applications for three important, abundant types of carbohydrates -starches, celluloses and hemicelluloses. The "native" materials will be obtained, characterised and then modified either chemically, physically or enzymatically to produce a range of new bio- material "building blocks" . These will then be subject to further treatment such as polymerisation to yield materials suitable for advanced polymeric applications.
The project will aim to draw generic conclusions about the potential of the resulting materials with respect to raw material source and nature of the optimum modification .
Applications for such products are widespread and include decorative surface coatings (with a market size of 5 billion ECU in Europe alone), biodegradable polymers, paper coatings and polymers for water treatment.
The use of these novel bio-materials could thus offer environmental, energy, conservation and technological advantages for European industry. The project has attracted very considerable support across Europe from industrial companies, research establishments and universities. The project offers an exciting opportunity to develop the science and technology of an important category of bio-sustainable industrial materials.
The project team is comprised of a representative European cross section of industry, research establishments and universities with interests in a wide range of source materials and end user applications.
The commercial interests of the industrial partners and the research establishments will ensure that the results of the project are rapidly applied.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
4612 PS Bergen Op Zoom
CB3 0HE Cambridge
B15 2TT Birmingham
LL57 2UW Bangor (Gwynedd)