CE.20.018 – RENOIR – From Sugars and Electrons to Diacids and Polymers

Route: Circular economy

Cluster question: 017 How can we make chemical and biochemical production processes more sustainable, more efficient, and cleaner?

Over 200 Mt of petrochemical-based polyolefines are being produced each year. Many of these non-biodegradable polymers, after being used only once, end up in natural environment. This mandates improved recycling options for the short-to-midterm, but also biodegradable alternatives to synthetic polyolefines for the longer-term. Biobased polycondensates have a high potential to ultimately replace polyolefins due to their superior recyclability and reduced CO2-footprint. Such products should be based upon the most widely available biomass feedstock -carbohydrates- and converted into suitable building blocks and polymers using sustainable mild methods. Electrochemistry enables production of unique chemicals via fewer conversion steps and/or more benign conditions. Furthermore, it utilizes cheap renewable energy to drive chemical transformation. Within RENOIR, electrosynthetic and electrocatalytic routes towards eco-efficient and cost-effective processes are developed for the production of both drop-in and new aliphatic diacids from sugar. To encourage technology development and facilitate market introduction, initial focus is on high-value applications, e.g. high-performance polymers and fragrances. Mid-to-longer-term focus will be given on polycondensates based on long-chain diacids having polyolefin-like properties. The large market potential of the derived products benefit from increased circularity and substantial CO2-reduction.
A basic process design and techno-economic evaluation will be used for future research in order to yield cost-competitive processes and products. Enabling the production of sugar-based aliphatic diacids and materials will valorise sugar-based feedstock in the EU, simultaneously reducing its’ dependence on non-EU feedstock. This will strengthen Dutch and European biobased industry and increase circularity and CO2-reduction within the plastic and chemical industry. Societal aspects such as public perception and consumer acceptance of the new technology will also be part of the project.

Keywords

aliphatic dicarboxylic acids, alternative to polyolefins, Biobased, biodegradable, Biomass feedstock, Circularity, CO2-reduction, Electrocatalytic, Electrosynthetic, High-performance polymers, Polycondensates, recyclable, Sugar-derived

Submitter

Organisation Wageningen Research (WUR)
Name Dr. J. (Jacco) van Haveren
E-mail jacco.vanhaveren@wur.nl
Website https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Research-Institutes/food-biobased-research/Solutions/Environmentally-benign-building-blocks-for-biobased-polymers-1.htm