Sustainable Chemical Industry: new materials, bio-aromatics, electrification

TNO helps the chemical industry to innovate by enabling businesses to reduce costs and get new products to the market faster. Businesses looking for new products or production processes turn to TNO for advice, pilot designs and trials in TNO or third party laboratories. This enables TNO to continually contribute to successful innovations in this sector.

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Chemical companies wish to become less dependent on a single group of raw materials, such as fossil raw materials, for their products. The transition from fossil to renewable raw materials offers new opportunities and is helping to make the chemical industry more sustainable. Europe's bulk chemical industry is faced with heavy competition from regions where energy and raw material costs are low, such as the Middle East and the United States. In addition, emerging economies are a key growth market for bulk chemical products. In response to these trends, European chemical industries are developing into producers of specialised products that are locally produced near the sources of the raw materials, such as biomass and other sustainable energy resources.

Diversification and specialisation

TNO has developed a vision in answer to these developments and has translated this into three concrete propositions for accelerating innovation in the chemical industry. We anticipate that businesses will focus more and more on niche markets with high-grade materials and specialised products. TNO is helping chemical companies to apply alternative raw materials, produce more efficiently and get their products to the market faster. We focus particularly on suppliers of renewable raw materials, fine chemicals, specialty chemicals and polymers and consumer chemicals. TNO is not only supporting the industry with new technology, we also help design new value chains and business models.

Three routes

The first route to new opportunities for the chemical industry is the flexible use of raw materials. TNO and its partners jointly develop alternatives to fossil raw materials that are sustainable, economically feasible, safe, cost-effective and relatively easy to scale up. Examples are biomass constituents or the extraction of raw materials from CO2.

The second route leads to smarter and more efficient production processes. We conceive and develop technologies, methods and business models to make existing processes more sustainable and economically feasible in order to enable more flexible production of smaller batches of more diverse products. This enables businesses to respond more quickly to changing market demands. 

For the third route, TNO is focusing on the qualitative improvement of the functionality of chemical products. This will enable chemical, pharmaceutical and personal and home care companies to respond more adequately to trends in the supply chain, such as the growing consumer demand for special and personalised products. Formulae and special materials are becoming more and more complex and this demands solutions for new functionality, whereby product safety plays an essential role.

Our products and services

We advise clients and provide various options that they can choose from, whereby technology, sustainability, safety and economic feasibility are seen as integral parts of a whole.

We provide engineering services to companies that are looking for new concepts for products or processes. Together with our partners, we design and build trials at the bench or pilot scale.

We share the technology we and others develop with our clients via contract research or licences. The intellectual property involved may belong to either TNO or the client.

Our clients profit from collaborations with knowledge institutes, businesses and government agencies via open innovation programmes, which means the development costs and risks are shared.

Curious about the possibilities to make the industry more sustainable together?

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Ir. Peter Wolfs

  • Chemistry
  • Chemicals
  • Formulation
  • Procestechnology
  • Personal & Home Care

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