Circular economy for SMEs – innovating with the NICER programme

The Innovate UK funding competition details are now live see here:

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 million to research, test and develop step-change circular economy approaches.

Competition opens: Monday 11 October 2021
Competition closes: Wednesday 8 December 2021 11:00am

Recording of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy SME Workshop 8th Sept 2021

Overview of the UKRI Centre for the Circular Chemical Economy

Prof Jin Xuan, Loughborough University

Theme 1: Enabling Technologies, Electrocatalytic Pathways to Olefins, Thermochemical and Biological Transformation, Chemical Transformation of Polymers Waste to Liquid Hydrocarbons

Prof Alex Cowan, Liverpool University

To enable a circular chemical economy theme 1 of the centre is developing new, and advancing existing, technologies that take waste and convert it back into useful products for use in the chemicals industry in a sustainable way. These activities have the potential to deliver a range of opportunities to industry in the future by providing; ways to valorise and utilise existing waste streams (such as carbon dioxide, bio- and municipal wastes); through the development of sustainable pathways for currently fossil derived chemical feedstocks and by delivering new capabilities in catalyst design.

Theme 2: Process Integration & Whole System Optimisation, Assessment of Alternative Olefins Production Routes, Assessment of Alternative Olefins Production Routes, Assessment of Carbon Circularity in Olefins Value Chain, Assessment of Social Impacts in Olefins Value Chain, Whole Systems Analyses

Prof Benoit Chachuat, Imperial
In the Process Integration & Whole System Optimisation theme, we assess how the catalytic technology innovations for processing of CO2 streams, solid waste and biomass into fresh chemicals can be integrated into existing chemical supply chains. In doing so, we consider the whole chemical value chains and account for the whole life cycles. We rely on detailed process models as the workhorse for scaling up catalytic technology at a low readiness level and for predicting the performance at scale of these technologies in terms of economic, environmental and social KPIs. Then, these KPIs feed into the stakeholder and public engagement activities. Major strands of research within this theme entail:
  • assessing the performance of alternative routes to key chemicals (e.g. olefins) from CO2 streams, solid waste and biomass
  • understanding the trade-offs inherent to chemical circularity and guiding the selection of chemical recycling technologies and combination of feedstocks
  • incorporating social impacts, in the sense of social benefits and social justice, alongside techno-economic and environmental considerations

Theme 3: Policy, Society and Finance, Sustainable Business Models, Financing the Circular Chemical Sector, Financing the Circular Chemical Sector, Social Dynamics, Policy

Dr Bing Xu, Heriot-Watt University

Theme 3 Policy, Society and Finance aims to explore the non-technological challenges that hold back the transition to circular practices and deliver effective real-world solutions. We aim to understand how “becoming circular” impact the business models across chemical supply chains and whether the right capabilities are in place. Besides, fresh insights will be provided on what drives financiers’ efforts to switch their strategies align to the circular chemical economy and provide guidance for businesses to de-risk their innovations and match their projects with suitable financing channels. Furthermore, it is important to gain an in-depth understanding of public knowledge, perception, attitudes, and willingness to pay towards sustainable products. Meanwhile, we will identify effective evidence-based policy instruments that can stimulate supply, demand, and investment in sustainable chemicals, moving from intention to action!

General overview of the Knowledge Transfer Network

Dr Sheena Hindocha, KTN

Industry engagement with the Centre

Dr Tim Blackburn, Business Development Manager, (Newcastle University)

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Ian Blakemore, (KTN)

Making Sustainable Materials for a Circular Economy: HVM Catapult perspective across supply chains

Dr Tom Taylor, Director of Future Business, (CPI)

Innovate UK project Case Study

Prof Upul Wijayantha, (Loughborough University)