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KTN Scoping Study – the future of chemical feedstocks

The chemicals industry produces products that are essential inputs to pretty much every sector of the economy with its major supply chain partners being the automotive, aerospace, construction, energy, food and healthcare sectors.

However, as global population increases, so too does consumer demand for these chemicals and given the world’s finite natural resources (as well as issues of climate change and security-of-supply) the industry must develop new, sustainable, chemical feedstocks if it is to meet future demand.

This KTN Scoping Study provides a summary of the UK innovation support landscape and innovation challenges/opportunities associated with the development of raw materials (or ‘feedstocks’) for the production of chemicals into the future.  Raw materials covered within the Study include:

  • Unconventional oil and gas (particularly shale gas)

  • Carbon dioxide

  • Renewable feedstocks

  • Scarce metals and minerals

  • Renewable hydrogen


The Study found that there are a huge number of opportunities, through innovation, for us to develop feedstocks for chemicals of the future.

For example, the Study identifies that companies are already developing processes to capture carbon dioxide from industrial processes and utilise it as a feedstock for making polymers, fertilisers, low-carbon fuels and building materials.

We already have UK-based companies that are utilising advances in industrial biotechnology to produce biofuels and advanced materials from food waste and municipal solid waste. 

As the hydrogen economy develops, companies are also looking at opportunities to utilise excess renewable energy to produce green hydrogen, which can then be transformed in other basic chemicals. 

Shale gas is also expected to play a key role in the future of the UK chemicals industry, providing a secure supply of indigenous feedstock, which can be utilised at the UK’s existing petrochemicals plants or as part of new processes based on industrial biotechnology.

KTN also make a number of recommendations aimed at stimulating and supporting innovation and growth in the chemical and chemistry-using industries and throughout the wider supply chains.

If you have specific raw materials challenges in your business, then the KTN wants to hear from you to explore how we can help connect you to innovation partners & funding to develop projects that can meet these challenges.

Contact: Peter Clark (Knowledge Transfer Manager, Raw Materials) on




2 people have had something to say so far

Industrial symbiosis is a proven means by which to identify and access alternative feedstocks for many key sectors of the economy. The breadth of resource information available through a cross sector approach is critical to developing risk mitigation strategies for critical feedstocks. Two examples follow: In the construction sector, Innovate UK funded a study in 2014 delivered by International Synergies which used industrial symbiosis to identify over 16 million tonnes per year alternative raw materials for the construction industry, whereas construction and demolition waste resulted in only 244kt available. For the bio-economy sector, a 2014 House of Lords consultation identified the targeted sectors for feedstock as agriculture, forestry, food processing and households. An industrial symbiosis analysis of UK data shows that these 4 sectors produced less than 50% of the available bio-economy feedstocks.
Posted on 15/08/16 14:54.
Thanks Rachel. Yes great point! I agree and can certainly see how the concept/ practice of industrial symbiosis can open up a range of possibilities for the identification/ utilisation of new chemical feedstocks. I am aware that regions like Teesside have been undertaking detailed studies to identify these kinds of opportunities. It would be great to see more studies like this across other regions and nationally.
Posted on 22/08/16 13:42 in reply to Rachel Lombardi.


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