Sustainability in chemistry only possible if we can eliminate scarcity of green carbon and energy


As our perceptions for the transition to a circular industry progress, it becomes more and more clear that we will face some major scarcity issues: scarcity of green energy, scarcity of green raw materials (carbon) for plastics and fertilisers, and scarcity of industrial water. We have been working on the energy transition for some time and there are many stimulating government policies for green energy. The realisation that we can generate far too few green raw materials from recylcing or biomass is also recent, as are the insights around limitations in use of industrial water.

The second edition of the Brightsite Transition Outlook (BTO), published this spring, will therefore focus on scarcity. The challenges are large, complex and enormously interrelated. For instance, raw materials can also be used for energy and industrial water is needed to make alternative raw materials from recycling or biomass suitable for use. Everything is interconnected and everything consumes energy. Brightsite takes a systems approach to this complexity using the Chemelot Integrated Model System (CIMS). Using a fictitious chemical complex, CHEM-NL 2050 with a scale of total ethylene and ammonia production in the Netherlands, we outline the need for renewable raw materials and energy and possible filling variables in 2050.

Besides modelling, we are working on specific topics and technologies, so-called no-regret options, that directly address the scarcity problem. In this newsletter, two key topics Brightsite is working on: Circular Water and Upwash. Both lead to higher yields from limited streams: less water use and more useful output from generic waste streams. Some time is still needed to deploy the technologies on a large scale, so the urgency is high. Read more about how the circular industry transition is taking shape step by step in this Brightsite newsletter.

Arnold Stokking
Managing Director Brightsite