The chemical industry in Emmen and Delfzijl – which together form “Chemport Europe” (a cluster organisations)- have acquired a leading position in Europe in research into sugar as a replacement for fossil fuels.
In the quest for more sustainable production methods in the chemical industry, sugars apparently offers a solution. As reported by RTV Drenthe.
“Sugars are wonderful building blocks for the chemical industry”, say Chemport Europe. The structure of the molecules makes them useful for making bioplastics, for example, replacing the use of petroleum, which is normally used for making plastic.
Chemport Europe is a collaboration of the chemical sector in Drenthe and Groningen, mainly aimed at industrial companies in Emmen and Delfzijl. Together with a number of companies, a Sugar Agenda was drawn up, in which sugar as a raw material in the Northern Netherlands was mapped out. As of today, this agenda has been on the desk of the commissioners of both provinces.
“We have sketched a picture of what is possible in 2030 and 2050,” explains Erin Bekkering of Chemport Europe. “It is a starting point for what we can do together. It is not that something concrete needs to be done immediately next month, but it would be nice if the provinces could go along with the agenda, and the industry invest in it.”
According to Bekkering, there is already a good basis for this work in the North. “Sugar is already produced here on an industrial scale: sugar beets belong to the region. At the same time there is industry, which is useful as you need a place to make it.” says Bekkering.
The applications of sugar molecules are being investigated in various places in the world. “But I don’t know such a collaboration as here”, says Bekkering. Until 2025, according to the researchers, efforts must be made to prepare for upscaling, and concrete steps must be taken in processing the next five years. After that, the long-term process can look to 2050, in which the North can develop into a leading sugar/chemical region.