Brussels, 14 November 2001
Key words: Safety, chemicals, sustainable development
MEDIA BRIEFING - PROGRAMME
On 20 November 2001, scientists from selected
Community-funded research projects (see below) will showcase some of the
concrete results achieved to make the chemical production processes more
efficient, while responding to key challenges in the areas of safety and
sustainability. Projects presented will illustrate innovative ways to save
energy, reduce capital and manufacturing costs, reduce waste and the use of
dangerous chemicals. They will also highlight how Europe can build technological
and commercial leadership as a result.
This event will include interventions by Commissioner
Busquin, and Emilia Franziska Müller MEP, who will address, inter alia, the
issue of future research activities of the European Union in the chemical
sector. As Commissioner Philippe Busquin points out Research and innovation are
fundamental prerequisites to combine economic growth and sustainable
development. Reducing the use of natural resource and energy consumption,
fostering new processes aiming at zero waste, increasing safety of processes and
industrial sites are major challenges which industrial research must
Three projects to be showcased
The three projects presented to the press will highlight the innovative work done to ensure safer, cleaner, more efficient and environment-friendly production processes for the chemical industry. For example, new reactive separation technologies presented in the
INTINT project allows savings of 10% in energy consumption, while eliminating solvents used in conventional processes. In fluopolymers production, new processes implemented in the
SUPERPOL project reduce manufacturing costs by 20%. This means estimated total savings of EUR 3.5 million a year in this specific area, with an additional economy of EUR 1 million a year from elimination of waste-water treatment.
The ceremony will provide participating journalists with the ideal occasion to improve and strengthen their contacts with key players in the field of European research.
All these projects involve strong cross-border partnerships between industry and research centres, bringing together critical mass of expertise and encouraging a multidisciplinary approach. Based on in
'real life' industrial conditions, they open direct perspectives for commercial implementation and contribute to Europe’s competitive edge in a number of key chemical sectors.
See ANNEX for details of projects.
This event will take place at the Solvay Technology and Research Centre (departure by bus from European Commission Breydel Building). Presentations will be followed by a buffet lunch, with ample opportunities for dialogue with researchers and Commission staff. Following lunch, a visit of the Solvay laboratories, a key partner in Community research and in two of the projects presented, will provide live demonstration of results.
One of the most research-intensive sectors, the European chemical industry devotes nearly 6% of its turnover to research and development. It is also one of the key partners in Community research programmes (notably
the GROWTH programme on industrial research). In an increasingly competitive environment, chemical producers must simultaneously respond to global commercial pressures and to growing public concerns. Research is thus a crucial tool helping European chemical companies address the two-fold challenge of making Europe more competitive on global markets, while ensuring safety and sustainable development.
Research is clearly the key to industry competitiveness. To preserve their competitive edge, EU chemical firms must innovate to reduce inefficiencies and improve on existing processes and products. As a result of its research effort, the chemical industry is one of the fastest growing industrial sectors in Europe (+3.2% a year). It is also the world’s leading chemical producer (one third of global chemical production), a strong contributor to Europe’s balance of payments (EUR 74 billion in 2000), and one of Europe’s main employers (1.7 million jobs in direct employment, i.e. 7% of total manufacturing jobs). Beyond the chemical industry proper, chemical processes are a core activity for a broad spectrum of industrial sectors (pulp and paper, textiles, etc), also involved in Europe’s research efforts.
Research is also at the heart of sustainable development. Over the years, Community research has focused on innovative industrial processes with the twin aim of stimulating growth and productivity, while protecting natural resources. This includes reducing inefficiencies in manufacturing processes, as well as minimising waste production, reducing use of dangerous substances, and limiting consumption of energy and natural resources. Recent economic evolutions, and renewed public concerns on the safety of chemical processes and installations, are bringing additional urgency to such efforts.
Registration: journalists wishing to attend should contact
Patrick Vittet-Philippe (see below) or register with
at Hill and Knowlton International,
(working under contract for the EC for this event).
Tel +32.2.737 9514
For further information on the projects presented
Frédéric Gouardères, Scientific Officer Research DG ,
Tel: +32.2.299 5904
For further information related to the event:
Patrick Vittet-Philippe, Press and Information Officer Research DG,
Tel: +32.2.296 9056
Media contact phone on the day of the event:
Mobile phone: +32.476 21 93 44
full text of speeches, PowerPoint presentations,
background material, and pictures from the projects
will be available at this event’s website:
MEDIA BRIEFING - PROGRAMME
Sustainable industrial production in the chemical industry :
safer, cleaner, more efficient chemical processes
20 November 2001 at Solvay Research and Technology Centre, Brussels
The chemical industry is one of the most successful and diverse sectors of the manufacturing industry in Europe. It is at the heart of European competitiveness and of sustainable development strategies.
The drive towards sustainable technologies in the chemical industry, which give particular emphasis to safety issues, prevention of waste and minimisation of natural resources use, requires a high level of innovation and new technologies.
In addition, the design, development and production of chemical products must take increasing account of society’s needs and of the life-cycle implications for
producers and consumers.
Registration, European Commission Breydel building,45 Av d’Auderghem
Departure by bus from Breydel to the Solvay Research Centre
address: Alois Michielsen, Chairman of the Executive Committee
Intervention by Philippe Busquin, European
Commissioner for Research
Keynote speech: Emilia Franziska Müller, Member
of European Parliament
Chemicals Policy of the European Union".
Presentations of research projects:
An intelligent separation technology
Andrzej Górak (Dortmund University, D)
Issues addressed: new perspectives in chemical engineering, improved quality products, cooperation with partners from candidates countries
A new decision support system for chemical/petrochemical
Sylvie Cauvin (Institut Français du Pétrole, F)
Issues addressed: process optimisation, skills improvements, minimisation of resources, plant safety and environment protection
A cleaner way for manufacturing of plastics
Costas Kiparissides (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, EL)
Issues addressed: modernisation of traditional processes, clean technology, better quality products, new perspectives in macromolecular chemistry
Question and answers session: moderator: Ezio Andreta
(DG Research, European Commission, Director of 'Growth' Programme)
||Buffet lunch offered by Solvay
Visit of the Solvay research laboratories.
||End of the event. Departure by bus to Zaventem Airport and
ANNEX: THREE PROJECTS IN BRIEF
PROJECT CHEM: Integrated plant control delivers safer production processes, reduces risks of accidents, pollution.
Every year, unpredictable plant shutdowns and other abnormal situations cause huge economic losses, not counting the untold damage caused by serious accidents. The root of many incidents lies in the complexity of control systems and in the difficulty for operators to make the right decision under extreme pressure in a very limited time. Many recent incidents are chilling example of faults that turned into disasters. The aim of the CHEM project is to develop effective decision support software to eliminate such risks, and achieve optimal operating conditions, by greatly simplifying decision-making in refining, chemical and petrochemical operations.
The three-year CHEM project is run by an eight nation multidisciplinary consortium, combining the specialist expertise and resources of five industrial companies, five academic institutions and four assistant contractors, as well as those of a number of US and Japanese associate partners. Deliverables include: methodologies (tested in real industrial situation and to be made widely available), toolboxes
('plug in' software modules for existing installations), and full-scale applications (complete software solutions dedicated to specific industrial processes).
Project budget: total costs: EUR 6.316 million. EC contribution: EUR 3.776 million.
Countries involved: F, S, E, FIN, B, NL, PL + International cooperation with Japan and USA with their own funds
PROJECT SUPERPOL: Supercritical fluids clean up polymer manufacturing, herald exciting new uses
New production methods employing supercritical fluids - gases subjected to very high pressures
- drastically reduce the amount of toxic waste generated in conventional plastic manufacturing. These innovative processes also result in polymers of exceptionally high purity. These 'fluopolymers' are in great demand in many industries (aerospace, semiconductors), and have considerable potential for exciting new applications in the area of nanotechnologies (in particular, medical applications of polymeric nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery).
The three-year SUPERPOL project involves four universities, as well as leading European chemical companies Solvay, Goldschmidt and DSM. Beyond ensuring rapid commercial implementation, the project aims at building Europe’s competitive advantage in new markets for these products.
'Companies that can produce the highest grade fluopolymers will control the markets for semiconductors and other applications. The winners will be the companies using (our)
technology,' says project co-ordinator Costas Kiparissides.
Project budget: total costs: EUR 1.5 million. EC contribution: EUR 1.215 million
Countries involved: B, NL, I, EL, D
PROJECT INTINT: New design for integrated chemical plants optimises processes, cuts costs.
The chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries are increasingly dependent on hybrid processes that combine reaction and separation mechanisms into single integrated operations known as
'reactive separation'. Combining these traditionally separate operations in a single production unit brings crucial advantages in energy savings, cost reductions, increased yields and cleaner processes.
This 14-member project, including 5 partners from candidate countries, demonstrates how new design for
'column internals' will help transform integrated chemical plants for a wide range of products from vodka to complex pharmaceuticals, putting Europe ahead in the critical area of reactive separation technologies. This new approach and flexible design will favour the entry of SMEs in this area, both as equipment producers and as users of the new design to produce cleaner chemicals faster and more economically.
Project budget: total costs: EUR 3.474 million. EC contribution: EUR 1.965 million
Countries involved: D, UK, NL, FIN, RO, PL, CH