This year, the VNCI (Royal Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry) celebrates its 100th anniversary. This memorable fact is marked with a number of 'Behind the scenes' events at various locations throughout the country. On 5 October, Chemport Emmen was the host.
Morning program: opening new pilot plant to chemically recycle PET and company visits
In the morning of October 5th, we were pleasantly welcomed by the VNCI at the gate of Emmtec, the Industry and Businesspark at Emmen. Emmtec is known as a pilot plant, a demo plant, and a production plant that focusses on innovative companies in the polymer sector. DSM, Teijin Aramid, Morssinkhof Plastics and N-xt Fertilizers are a few examples of these companies. A bicycle was needed to move across the 120-hectare park to the tent where the presentations took place.
In the tent, we were welcomed by Joost Hoebink, Colette Alma (director of the VNCI) and Bouke Arends (alderman for economic affairs of the Municipality of Emmen). An exciting moment was the opening of the new pilot plant of Cumapol. This company found a way to chemically recycle coloured PET: by adding glycol, a depolymerisation reaction takes place. The product is a liquid with such a low viscosity that it is easy to purify and decolourize.
For the lunch, we took our bikes again to move to DC Tech, the Center for Innovative Craftsmanship Sustainable Chemical Technology of the Drenthe College.
Afternoon program: brainstorm session how SME can contribute to Roadmap 2050
After lunch, the groups split up for visits to NHL Stenden or DC Tech. ILCA was invited to join an innovation brainstorm session hosted by Colette Alma (VNCI) and Ruud Koene (former director Rütgers). The session aimed to identify opportunities for chemical SMEs as a solver of climate issues and the set goals in the report Roadmap 2050 - 'Chemistry for Climate'.
With a group of 20 representatives of SMEs and municipalities from the northeaster provinces, we mapped innovative products and processes of SMEs that contribute to the energy transition. Focus areas were Agrifood, Transport and mobility, Residential and tertiary sector, Industry, and the Electricity sector. We selected three promising areas for innovation and in three groups we further discussed how solutions within these areas could look like. We discussed what would be needed practically to realize these solutions, what the constrains are, who the suitable partners could be, and how the VNCI could contribute. Following that, Ruud Koene presented the new PPS innovation fund Gochem. The fund, raised by NWO and SIA, aims to stimulate SMEs to innovate and contribute to the main themes in the Roadmap 2050 (sustainability, circularity). The fund comprises 1,8 million euros (so far) and sets a maximum of 50.000 euros per project. For Gochem, SMEs are solely defined as companies with a maximum turnover of 50 million euros and less than 250 FTE. This might be a good mean to support SMEs in the Netherlands!
Emmen is an exciting chemistry cluster for biobased and sustainable polymers
At the end of the day, the program was summarised by Joost Hoebink, who highlighted the strength of Chemport Emmen as a chemistry cluster packed with start-ups and scale-ups. We can conclude that Chemport Emmen is a leader in biobased composites and polymers. As Colette Alma says: “Emmen has the means to participate in realizing the necessary upscaling towards a biobased and circular society”.