A wide ranging new Dutch alliance consisting of AkzoNobel, BASF, Shell, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Top Sector Chemistry, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and Utrecht University, the Eindhoven University of Technology and Groningen University have confirmed their plans for the setting up of a new Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC). This national research centre will tackle important energy and chemistry issues associated with the growing depletion of the finite supply of raw materials. The partners have made a commitment for several years and are aiming to jointly invest 11 million a year, or 80 – 100 jobs in the knowledge industry. This will also reinforce our competitive position, it will promote economic growth and generate new jobs; Netherlands Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp stated at the announcement.
The United Nations predicts that the world population will reach about 9 billion by 2050. The population growth will place a heavy strain on the supply of raw materials, such as oil and metals, and will constitute a challenge for sustainability and for the quality of life in urban areas, where an estimated 70% of the world population will live. Finding solutions is a major challenge, requiring pioneering multidisciplinary research and new partnerships. The government, universities and trade and industry are therefore joining forces in the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium.
Industrial and academic strengths
The ARC CBBC brings together the industrial and academic strengths available in the Netherlands in the field of catalysis, synthesis, macromolecular chemistry and process technology, therefore connecting various areas of interdisciplinary expertise at Dutch knowledge institutions with each other and with trade and industry at a national level.
Top academic researchers in various fields of expertise will work closely with trade and industry in this new research centre on sustainable solutions for the medium and long term, such as new chemical processes and building blocks for functional materials, coatings and energy carriers. The parties will not only operate bilaterally, but will also work jointly on innovation in an open partnership.
Sustainable production methods
The ever-growing global population creates a major challenge for the world: to find a sustainable solution to the depletion of resources while at the same time continuing to meet the demand for production materials.
The improvement of existing products and production processes and the development of innovative alternatives can contribute to the transition to a circular economy, in which products and materials are recycled and raw materials retain their value. The ARC CBBC will focus on the chemical building blocks for producing the energy carriers, coatings and materials of the future. Will the sun and wind be the driving forces behind tomorrows chemistry? Is CO2 not a threat, but in fact a source of new possibilities? What possibilities for making existing and new building blocks will be opened by sustainable production methods? New chemical processes enable us to use water and energy more efficiently, Minister Kamp explained. We can increase food productivity, reduce the mountain of waste and spare the climate. Promising research is being carried out into the use of CO2 as a resource for the production of new materials.
Internationally trend-setting infrastructure
The ARC CBBC is a national research centre that continues to build on expertise within the Gravitation programmes financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. With the ARC CBBC, the partners are contributing to an internationally trend-setting infrastructure for research and innovation in the Netherlands, which will attract top talent from all over the world. The partners will provide further details at the beginning of 2016 on the scale and the specific contributions of the parties involved in this ambitious public-private partnership.
The integrated approach to research issues in these programmes, from the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale via supramolecular structures to the reactor scale, will be expanded in the ARC CBBC in order to tackle challenges on different time and dimensional scales simultaneously. Linking pioneering science with complex industrial issues can lead to the breakthroughs that are needed to sustainably meet demand for energy and materials in the future.
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