Biobased industry review 2015

BioAmber biobased facility in Sarnia

It’s been another busy year for the biobased chemicals and fuels team at NNFCC; as 2015 draws to a close we take a look at some of the year’s highlights. NNFCC, based in York, is one of the leading European … Read more

In memory of Wiero Beek

When in the seventies the discussion on the environmental problem erupted, Wiero Beek, then research director at Unilever, was one of the first industrialists who took the problem seriously. He devoted all his intellectual capacities to that task. Admirably so: … Read more

Photanol prepares itself for the market

Photanol, based in Amsterdam, has started tests in greenhouses at Bleiswijk (Nl), where cyanobacteria will produce fragrances and flavourings, and intermediates for the chemical industry, with no other feedstock than CO2 and sunlight. Dirk den Ouden, director at Photanol, gives … Read more

Systems thinking is not our forte

We all know the stories about DDT, fifty years ago – but did we learn from them? Not quite, says Ton Schoot Uiterkamp, a retired – but still very active – professor in environmental sciences at Groningen University. He has … Read more

More guts needed for the bioeconomy

North-western Europe has the best feedstock in the world for biobased industries, says Marc Verbruggen, NatureWorks’ CEO and largest PLA producer in the world. He could have added: also the largest sugar factories, the highest yields per hectare, outstanding research … Read more

Welcome to the age of CRISPR

Genetic modification is not a new technology. But a new tool, CRISPR, now elevates it to a much higher level. And op top of that, genetic modification is in the course of a rapid automation. This allows us to change … Read more

Rudy Rabbinge: genetic modification has much potential but also entails risks for world food supply and the environment

Nothing is wrong with genetic modification and its application in agriculture (green biotechnology), says Rudy Rabbinge; agriculture needs innovation, and GM technology is helpful in that because it allows us to operate faster and more precisely. But the business model … Read more

Nature as an inventor

In her book ‘Nature as an inventor’ (in Dutch), Ylva Poelman beautifully paints bionics as the subject of the future. Bionics is learning from nature: applying successful solutions from nature – billions of years of invention for free, as the … Read more

Hemp tea

Industrial hemp

One of the many entrepreneurs who market products from industrial hemp, is Esther Molenwijk. Her enthusiasm is contagious, at least on us. This year, she sells tea from hemp leaves. ‘A delicious, healthy tea made of a very sustainable crop,’ … Read more

What is biomass anyway?

What is biomass? Biomaterial, a source of energy or both? The answer depends on who you are, and where and when you live. Traditionally defining biomass was the domain of ecologists and agricultural scientists. Ecologists are likely to say ‘biomass … Read more

The shelf life of green chemistry

Green chemistry is threatened both from without and within. In the heydays of classical organic chemistry, in a way many researchers overestimated their powers: they could synthesise anything, even from the drawing board, and better than nature. That overconfidence has … Read more

Towards a sustainable medicines production

A decade ago, in an authoritative scientific magazine, we published a prediction (1) on the synthesis of complicated molecules, primarily medicines. We foresaw the integration of chemo and bio catalysis in a reactor that would also be the catalyst. A … Read more

Bioplastics are the future

Bioplastics started their development just recently, said Innovia’s Andy Sweetman at the Bio!Pac conference, last week. Fossil-based plastics are at the height of their learning curve, they cannot improve very much anymore. Whereas there is much room for improvement in … Read more