28 Juli 2020

Developing new circular materials from safe bio-based building blocks

New library of biobased materials will bring the circular ambitions of the European Union a step closer

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The BBI project CHAMPION, which started in June 2020, will develop a large number of new, safe biobased materials for circular applications. This new library of biobased materials will bring the circular ambitions of the European Union a step closer. The project is carried out as a collaboration between Wageningen University & Research and fourteen partners from six European countries, and is coordinated by the University of York.

The majority of conventional synthetic materials are not fit for effective recycling, and when released into the environment they are often insufficiently degradable, giving rise to plastic soup and persistent microplastics, for example. This is in conflict with the EU’s green credentials and its ambitions to create a circular economy. The EU BBI project CHAMPION addresses these circular economy ambitions by developing new, safe and circular, bio-based materials and products using reversible aza-Michael chemistry.

Circular by design

CHAMPION will develop new bio-based building blocks, including novel bio-based diamines that will be tested for human and eco toxicity in order to assure their safety (i.e. safe by design). Using so-called aza-Michael coupling chemistry, new performance materials for a variety of applications will be developed including structural adhesives, automotive interior surfaces, and home care products. The developed materials will be tested for biodegradability as well as chemical recyclability, thereby assuring that they are circular by design. This means that for CHAMPION products the intended end-of-life scenarios will be recycling, digestion, and biodegradability, significantly reducing the uncontrolled emissions of greenhouse gases, persistent substances, and plastics/microplastics into the environment.

The project

By combining chemical and polymer synthesis, catalysis, early human and eco toxicity screening, application testing, biodegradability testing, conceptual process design, and life cycle analysis in an integrated fashion, CHAMPION aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Produce a library of more than 50 novel bio-derivable materials using the aza-Michael addition reaction for chain extension, modification, and curing;
  • Increase the environmental and economic performance of the novel polymers by developing biodegradable alternatives and establishing an innovative testing strategy to rapidly evaluate toxicological safety issues of candidate products;
  • Produce and submit to industrial partners for testing four novel bio-based polymer candidates with high performance for home care formulation additives, structural adhesives, coatings, and automotive interior surfaces;
  • Increase the overall resource efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the targeted applications;
  • Validate new and improved processing technologies and evaluate the most advanced bio-based polyester candidates in environmental, social, and economic terms, with results benchmarked against the conventional petrochemical-based alternatives;
  • Communicate with key audiences and stakeholders and gather feedback from policymakers and market actors along the entire value chain.

 

Partners

CHAMPION is a three-year BBI project with a budget of EUR 5.7m, combining the expertise of fourteen partners ranging from knowledge institutes to SMEs and large industries from six European countries.

  1. University of York – United Kingdom
  2. Wageningen Food & Bio-based Research – the Netherlands
  3. BioDetection Systems BV – the Netherlands
  4. Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy – Finland
  5. Process Design Center BV – the Netherlands
  6. OWS NV – Belgium
  7. Circa Sustainable Chemicals Ltd – United Kingdom
  8. Unilever UK Central Resources Ltd – United Kingdom
  9. nova-Institut für Politische und ökologische Innovation GmbH – Germany
  10. Ava Biochem BSL AG – Switzerland
  11. Stahl International BV – the Netherlands
  12. Orineo BV – Belgium
  13. SQ Consult BV – the Netherlands
  14. Scott Bader Co Ltd – United Kingdom

Source: Wageningen UR, press release, 2020-07-01.

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