CP in chemical industry
Innovating leading to Cleaner Production was practised in chemical industry long time before “Cleaner Production” was defined as own strategy. A lot of historical examples for the application of CP are known, but in the last years there was a slowed pace of innovations, especially in subsectors with high material and energy consumption. The question is now, how to achieve further improvements in Eco-Efficiency and how a loss of competiviness can be avoided. But there is still a high potential for further progress in CP in the chemical industry, especially in Europe.
1. Cleaner Production opportunities
A number of options that promise strong positive effects on the companies´ economy and ecology are identified. These strategies also have a big market potential and can improve the competiviness of the industry in Europe.
- Alternative synthetic pathways
Alternative synthetic pathways are the most promising innovation option in ecological and economical terms for the chemical industry in Europe. Previously more information about the technological, ecological and economical nature of concrete processes and technologies related to specific pathways has to be collected.
- Heterogeneous catalysis
This strategy is already widely used in industry and there is still potential for further processing.
- Services instead of products
It is meant that options like offering product services are improved in the individual companies. It can have a strong positive effect on the ecological impact of the industry.
- Solvent-free reactions
- Solid phase reactions
- Bio catalysis
- New refrigerants
- New detergents/surfactants
- New solvents and cleaning agents
The implementation of new solvents and cleaning agents promises most in ecological term, but unfortunately it is confronted with many barriers.
- Interlinking/closing of material and recycling
No high potential for improvements is seen in this option of CP for the chemical industry.
- Extended use of renewable material
Renewable materials which could be used in chemical industry are starch, cellulose or lignin, but like the interlinking/closing of material and recycling it is no promising strategy for this kind of industry.
2. Barriers to the implementation and diffusion
Table 1: Barriers to the implementation and diffusion of CP
|Alternative synthetic pathways
|Lack of pressure to be environmentally friendly, lack of research funds, structural/industrial/commercial barriers
|Services instead of product
|structural/industrial/commercial barriers, lack of respective education/skills
|New solvents & cleaning agents
|Barriers in fields of policy/standard and regulation, structural/industrial/commercial barriers
Reference: Eder, P.: Expert inquiry on innovation options for cleaner production in the Chemical industry, article published in Journal of Cleaner Production Vol. 11 (2003)