Fraunhofer Institute for
Systems and Innovation Research ISI
Medium- and long-term opportunities and risks of the biotechnological production of bulk chemicals from renewable resources (BREW)
Potential benefits are the availability of new superior materials, the use of domestic renewable raw materials (stable and secure), ecological benefits (renewable feedstocks and energy efficient processes) and the evolution of a new technology area offering growth and employment opportunities in various sectors. On the other hand there are also important risks, among them the reduction of biodiversity, health impacts for humans and the general public perception which can devaluate earlier investments.
The project deals with all major aspects of the biotechnological production of bulk chemicals and chemical intermediates from renewable raw materials in the medium and long term (until 2050). The ultimate goal is to provide an overall evaluation of the opportunities and risks. The results of the project are expected to be highly relevant for strategy development both in companies and in policy. Early communication of the results may also contribute to a rational public discussion and it may spur private-public partnerships.
The workplan consists of the following ten work packages:
- Overview of biotechnological processes that are expected to become relevant for bulk chemicals and chemical intermediates from renewable resources (a few classes will be distinguished in order to account for differences in technical and economical viability and in timeframes).
- Compilation of the main technical and economic characteristics of these processes, present and future. Among the most important data are raw material use, yields, energy requirements, emissions and costs.
- Environmental assessment of the products from a life-cycle perspective: This includes the production of biomass-derived feedstocks, processing and waste management.
- Development of a taxonomy of risks accounting for the differences in products, processes and types of application; identification of knowledge gaps.
- Development of categories of public perception depending on the type of the production process, the product and its type of application.
- Projection of the market potential for bulk chemicals and intermediates produced by biotechnological processes and estimation of the commercial impacts on conventional chemicals based on petrochemical raw materials.
- Scenario calculations to quantify the total requirements of land use, the development of feedstock and energy requirements, emissions and costs (relative to a reference scenario, primarily based on petrochemical resources).
- Concluding evaluation assessing the opportunities and risks of the processes/products, thereby taking into account both obstacles and drivers. This final assessment is expected to lead to recommendations as to which technologies should receive special R&D support and which, on the other hand seem to entail substantial risks.
- Dissemination of the results by means of a conference.
- Project co-ordination.
European Commission (GROWTH Programme)
- Utrecht University (UU), Department of Science, Technology and Society (STS), Utrecht, Netherlands (co-ordination)
- Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI), Karlsruhe, Germany
- Centro per l'Educazione, la Ricerca, l'Informazione su Scienza e Società (CERISS), Milan, Italy
- Plant Research International (PRI), Wageningen, Netherlands
- Universidade Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Madrid, Spain
- ACTIN (Alternative Crops Technology Interaction Network), Leatherhead, United Kingdom
- Agrotechnology and Food Innovations B.V. (A&F), Wageningen, Netherlands
- BP, Hull, United Kingdom
- Cargill Dow, Naarden, Netherlands
- DSM, Geleen, Netherlands
- DuPont, Mechelen, Denmark
- Shell, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Uniqema, Wilton, Redcar, United Kingdom
- Novozymes, Bagsvaerd, Denmark
- Roquette, Lestrem, France