Congress Annual Processnet and Biotechnology Congress: Shale–Gas Boom Puts Focus on Raw Materials

Editor: Anke Geipel-Kern

Sustainable production and raw material supply – that were the focus topics of this year's Processnet – and Dechema Biotechnology Congress. Especially debated was the recent shale–gas boom in the US, that gives American companies a clear competitive edge in terms of fuel and feedstock...

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At the press conference:) Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth (Fraunhofer IGB), Dr.-Ing. Claas-Jürgen Klasen (Evonik Industries), Prof. Dr. Armin Reller (Uni Augsburg), Prof. Dr. Andreas Liese (Uni Hamburg-Harburg).
At the press conference:) Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth (Fraunhofer IGB), Dr.-Ing. Claas-Jürgen Klasen (Evonik Industries), Prof. Dr. Armin Reller (Uni Augsburg), Prof. Dr. Andreas Liese (Uni Hamburg-Harburg).
(Picture: Geipel-Kern)

Shale gas casts its shadows on the chemical industries in Europe: German companies fear to be left behind when cheap alternative natural gas floods the US market, giving both energy and hydrocarbon feedstock a differential advantage compared to overseas industries. One of the first to voice his concerns was Evonik's member of the board Dr. Thomas Haeberle.

“Shale gas will change the chemical industry deeply,” Haeberle stated in his opening speech at the recent Processnet – and Dechema Biotechnology Congress last week in Karlsruhe, Germany. Europe's chemical industry would suffer serious handicaps if cheap gas got available in large scale, he believes.

“Shale Gas Will Change the Chemical Industry Deeply”

Despite these gloomy vision, Germany's chemical industry defends its leading position in terms of renewable materials: With a recent share of 13 percent the full potential of these feedstocks is still higher, insiders believe. By 2020, the share of renewable raw materials could reach 20 precent, giving the industry a clear advantage over the competition, analysts predict.

The congress participants agreed that the use of biomaterials offers huge potentials, despite recent critics like the Leopoldina-Study. Prof. Dr. Thomas Hirth of Germany's renown Fraunhofer Institut believes that the effect of watering of energy crops is of higher importance than the food vs. fuel debate.

Trend Towards Renewables Continues

To make best use of bio-materials, the chemical industry will have to develop new processes for biocatalysis, Prof. Dr. Andreas Liese Hamburg-Harburg.technical university explained. Keystones to these plans were the process industry and biotechnology that would have to cooperate in detail to unite ecology and economy, Liese stated.

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