As many chemists all over the world, Chemploy and ChemXpro has attended the IUPAC Conference held in august 2023 in The Hague. Read on to hear about our experience as written down by our chemical process engineer Anika!

The IUPAC Chain Conference was an impactful event, bringing together people from various professional backgrounds and sectors to showcase pertinent work and engage in discussions on vital topics across diverse fields of Chemistry.

Turning on attention to the Sustainability sessions, it was quite inspiring to get insight on the latest advancements and approaches being taken to tackle the pressing environmental crisis. While some researches focus on decreasing the impact of the industry activities by changing the source and characteristics of the feedstock, some are focusing on process enhancements thought the creation of novel catalysts and reaction pathways, and others are investing their efforts on the treatment and recyclability of the pollutants itself. The remarkable aspect of these divergent strategies lies in the flexibility the offer to the industry to transition into more sustainable models without having to overhaul its whole infrastructure in one go.

Much has been discussed on the role of catalysts in boosting the green revolution, as researchers work on the synthesis of new catalysts tailored for the conversion of renewable raw materials, clean energy production and/or waste minimization. This topic gains particular significance in the context of chemical plastic recycling and development of robust bio-based plastic products. Also in the field of plastics, enzymatic polymerization of biobased monomers is resurging as an alternative to petroleum-based methods, holding promise for more sustainable polymer production. In parallel, analysis techniques are advancing, providing a more in depth knowledge of the compounds structures and chemicals behaviors.

Despite all the great work in progress, the challenges that still need to be overcome were also highlighted and amply discussed. For instance, one very interesting talk compared different strategies for achieving net zero emissions in the industry based on biomass, recycling and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) in terms of land, energy and water use. These comparisons encompassed  both global and regional perspective, revealing that the distinct approaches will result in different stress scenarios in different parts of the world. It became clear that a universal model isn’t viable and careful examination of the local resources is imperative before selecting the decarbonization routes.  Furthermore, the industry faces great challenges ahead building and modifying their infrastructure and implementing new processes that are greener by design.

Overall, the consensus is that an interdisciplinary approach is essential for addressing and forecasting the forthcoming challenges in the path towards a more sustainable future. This collaboration isn’t limited to individual institutions but extends across them. Hence, collaboration between academia and industry is deemed essential for accelerating the development of novel processes. Meanwhile, regulatory bodies will play a pivotal role in determining the pace of integrating these innovations. Notably, machine learning is already assuming a crucial role in this revolution, aiding scientists in the collection and interpretation of data.

Many thanks Anika for providing these insights!