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Portfolio of research engaging with citizens

Science communication and public perception

Smarter production, smarter consumption

Background description

Global phenomena, such as rising industrial production, soaring energy demand and the pressures to increase agricultural productivity, are putting ever-larger strains on the environment and natural resources. The European Union is committed to a sustainable development strategy that requires the integration of sustainable development and environmental protection considerations into all EU policies and activities. Sustainable development means producing and consuming in smarter ways that break the link between economic growth and unsustainable resource use. On the one hand this requires changes in attitudes and behaviour, and on the other hand, the adoption of cleaner, renewable technologies for energy, industry and transport. EU-funded research addresses both of these requirements.


‘Aquatic biofouling’ describes the marine micro-organisms, animals and plants that attach themselves to ships, water outlets and other underwater equipment which require regular cleaning to remove them. The AMBIO project is using molecular engineering to nanostructure coatings that can be applied to ships’ hulls, for example, to prevent biofouling without resorting to toxic ‘biocide’ chemicals. The Enable project aims to raise awareness of the benefits of a more sustainable built environment using, for example, renewable energy sources and sustainable building technologies. Enable operates at European, national and local levels, sharing solutions and giving citizens and industry access to a pan-European network. The Concorde project is coordinating pan-European research into chemical catalysis using nanostructured oxides. Catalysis can reduce energy consumption, drive cleaner chemical processes and reduce waste. By sharing knowledge across Europe, Concorde is helping spread the use of new catalysts for more sustainable and environmentfriendly industrial chemical processes.

Full project title: Advanced nanostructured surfaces for the control of biofouling
Project acronym: AMBIO
Project coordinator: University of Birmingham, UK
Duration: 5 years
Full project title: Raising European awareness of a sustainable built environment
Project acronym: Enable
Project coordinator: Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment, France
Duration: 18 months
Full project title: Coordination of nanostructured catalytic oxides research and development in Europe
Project acronym: Concorde
Project coordinator: The Institute for Catalysis and Petroleum Chemistry, CSIC, Spain
Duration: 27 months

Science in society significance

Sustainable development approaches are applicable across a huge range of activities and it is important that limited research resources are spent where they can offer most to growth and sustainability. AMBIO will help open new global markets for European knowledge-based products and services – aquatic biofouling in power plants, desalination systems and fish farms cost tens of billions of euro a year and AMBIO’s solutions mean fewer toxic biocides will be used and cleaner ships that burn less fuel, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. As more than 30% of our planet’s GDP depends on chemical catalysis, as do over 80% of chemical industrial processes, Concorde has huge potential for leveraging more sustainable, smarter industrial processes through reducing energy costs and waste. In contrast, Enable is about making smarter consumers and workers, persuading people and industry to adapt their lifestyles to buildings that use less energy and cause less pollution. Through raising public and industry awareness of sustainable solutions and technologies, Enable helps architects, developers and individual citizens to opt for a sustainable built environment.

Expected results/outcomes

  • Reduced energy costs and use of toxic biocidal chemicals. New markets for European companies in biofouling treatment of marine structures (AMBIO);
  • Improved awareness in the construction industry, and among citizens, of the availability and benefits of sustainable construction technologies and environmentally friendly buildings (Enable);
  • Greater demand for, and use of, sustainable building technologies and a sustainable built environment (Enable);
  • More rapid take-up of state-of-the-art catalytic technologies across a wide range of industrial sectors, reducing energy use and waste (Concorde).