PfI Academy: From Plant to Product

The PfI Academy on April 30th 2015 was fully dedicated to the theme: “From plant to product”. Three experts on the biobased economy shared their views on the latest developments with the participants.

Marten Hamelink, senior policy advisor at the Directorate Biobased Economy and Green Growth of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ), introduced the four pillars of the Dutch biobased government policy: innovation, stimulating legislation and regulation, smart use of market incentives and the government as network partner. All steps in the biomass chain are potentially interesting: from the production of biomass (such as algae, wood, and sugar beet) and residues of households and industry, via conversion to the design and production of bio-based products.

According to Marten the bio-based economy does not only pose technical questions. Marten: “Understanding and acceptance by the general public is still a huge challenge. ‘Bio for Energy’ for example still raises a lot of resistance.”

Monique Wekking is senior business development manager Biobased Economy at TNO. TNO operates in five major areas: industry; healthy living; defense, safety and security; urbanisation and energy. Monique signals the importance of biomass for the chemical industry. One of the major challenges which TNO is working on is scaling up biomass production. According to Monique’s the sector is moving more and more toward specialty chemicals. Monique: “The main driver for this is probably energy, because this requires large scale production.”

Emiel Hanekamp gave a brief presentation of an exploratory study carried on the opportunities for agroforestry entrepreneurs in Senegal to produce biomass for the Dutch biobased economy. The study shows that Senegal agroforestry systems have a high potential as a supplier of biomass substances such as vegetable oil and pectin Arabic gum. Most crops can provide more than one interesting substance which increases the value for local farmers.

According to Emiel, additional research is needed to determine whether the import of biomass from distant countries to the Netherlands can be carried out in a sustainable and financially profitable way.

The PFI Academy is an informal gathering in which new ideas and developments around each time a different theme are shared. The meeting is organized once a quarter and is by invitation only. Would you like to attend, please feel free to contact Ingeborg Gort or Emiel Hanekamp.