The technologies to be developed in the PERFORM project are directed towards highly efficient and integrated electrochemical systems which substantially improve oxidative chemical transformations based on bio-based feedstocks. PERFORM provides solutions for the need for the electrification of the chemical industry and will establish an open access flexible PowerPlatform pilot plant to be used also after the end of the project, allowing for continuing innovations and impact.
PERFORM will demonstrate that multi-step chemical conversions can be avoided and instead performed in a single electrochemical cell, such that this can be considered as a disruptive technology. Therefore, the implementation of electrochemical production methods for building blocks for performance products will be a game changer, leading to more efficient and sustainable production of chemicals.
The development and innovation in the PERFORM program will target two global trends that are drivers of a major transition within the European chemical industry: 1) electrification and 2) a shift towards bio-based feedstocks.
The European chemicals industry is a crucial part of the economy with sales amounting to €551 billion in 2014. Although this represents a doubling of sales in the past two decades, the global market share of the EU has almost halved in the same period. Global developments have decreased the competitiveness of the EU, putting immense pressure on the industry to innovate. The shale gas boom in North America, a continuing abundance of feedstocks in the Middle East, and cheap labour and raw materials in Asia have all put the EU industry at a significant disadvantage. At the same time, there is pressure on the industry from policy makers and consumers to become more sustainable and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Luckily, remaining competitive and becoming more sustainable go hand in hand. By becoming more efficient in terms of energy and materials usage, utilizing local renewable feedstocks, and transitioning away from fossil fuels towards electricity as the main energy source, the chemicals industry can realize the required level of sustainability. Concurrently, these developments will save on costs and bring new innovative products and processes to the market, allowing for unique business cases that will strengthen the position of the EU chemicals industry in the global competitive landscape.
The overall objectives of PERFORM are to address these global trends by:
- Development and construction of a highly versatile and modular TRL6 electrochemical PowerPlatform for the valorisation of biomass that will overcome current challenges in electrochemistry;
- Demonstration of the improved flexibility by showcasing two processes based on different feedstocks at variable throughputs and electricity input without major losses in the overall process performance;
- Dissemination and exploitation of the major innovation outcomes during the project with continuing impact by providing open-access infrastructure for integrated electrochemical processes to be available to the research community after the project ends.