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ACHEMA Worldwide News 2/2014

→ BiobasedWorld at ACHEMA 2015 As an ACHEMA exhibitor, you will soon have the chance to become part of BiobasedWorld by signing up for our special publication. A visit to the BiobasedWorld section of the congress program will bring you up to date on what’s simmering in the think tanks around the world concerning biorefinery platforms, novel bioprocesses from the idea for the biocatalyst to the downstream processing of the product, development and processing of biobased products from bulk chemicals to specialties and much more. The German chemical industry association (VCI) objects to disrupting the mechanisms of the free market with political interventions such as quotas or subsidies. Customers buy products according to performance, not out of political motivation, is the VCI’s rationale. However, political intervention is something you can’t ignore while discussing the biobased economy. Brazil was among the first countries to implement a national ethanol program in 1975 in response to the first oil crisis and today every gasoline pump dispenses fuel that contains between 20 and 25 % ethanol. The US established their National Renewable Fuel Standard program in 2005 and now have ethanol admixture in two thirds of the national gasoline supply. When oil companies launched E10 gasoline with 10 % ethanol in Germany in 2011, however, they banged their heads against a brick wall. Generally known as law-abiding, the general public did nothing to fulfill the quota demanded by the European Union’s renewable energy policy. Drivers simply refused to buy the bio-enhanced fuel and preferred to pay a premium for unadulterated gasoline. They still do so today and E10 never got a foothold in the German fuel market. Much of the doubt about E10 is rooted in the belief that it could damage the engine and this is due to a communication disaster. Upon introduction of the new fuel car manufacturers and motor clubs announced that E10 may not be suitable for some cars. Thereupon drivers feared for the safety of their beloved cars and sought refuge in the wellknown, risk-free, ethanol-free standard gasoline. While it is true that the ethanol content can damage the piping of older cars, this affects only 1 % of the vehicles rolling on the streets of Germany. The biofuels market could look quite different, had the facts been phrased in a positive way, that is with 99 % of all cars you probably wouldn’t notice a difference if they ran on E10. Lesson learned: the old adage “perception is reality” still holds true, regardless of the facts. What the consumer thinks about your product is what you should focus on, marketing-wise and all those involved need to act in concert. Study Bioeconomy Brick-and-Mortar or Online The biobased economy sings its own praises to be knowledge-based and new master studies are emerging worldwide. Germany’s E10 phenomenon shows that the marketing of biobased products has its peculiarities and that even the best technology is prone to misunderstandings if not communicated properly. Obviously it is not enough to teach the students the “bio”-part, but the “economy”- part also needs to be addressed thoroughly and this shows in the curricula. At Hohenheim University (Germany) for example, there is a module “markets, innovation and social acceptance of biobased products”. Other options to study bioeconomy are Edinburgh University (UK), the University of Eastern Finland in cooperation with the Graduate School of Forestry Research Institute of Ghana and Iowa State University (US). Even if your undergraduate days are long gone, you can join the massive open online course “Technology for Biobased Products” at www. edx.org, the non-profit online initiative created by Harvard and MIT. The course is a joint initiative of TU Delft, the international BE-Basic consortium and University of Campinas. Within seven weeks you can learn the basics of process design for biobased products from feedstock to biomaterials, chemicals and biofuels. BiobasedWorld at ACHEMA offers you the chance of five days of real life continuing education without an exam. Whether it is concepts for the design of new bioprocesses or the equipment to make them a reality, both in the exhibition and congress program you can experience the biobased economy at work. n A special edition from PROCESS 9


ACHEMA Worldwide News 2/2014
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