[CHALLENGES] Bio-Based Materials, Energy and Water in the Circular Economy

We will explore the emerging bio-based economy and walk through some
of the best raw material inputs for industrial scale change. From hemp to mushrooms,
nature provides the sustainable solutions industry is looking for.

We will also discuss the use and re-use of energy and water in industry-farming symbiotic networks.

Event summary at https://cloud.oscedays.org/index.php/s/OLwCPAMOe4cnnEQ


Looks great! I think @Alexander_Prinsen has a lot of knowledge also on the blue economy - so probably some other nice examples you can look at.

Thank you, Erica, I will use his knowledge. I am lucky that my partner Brandon, who is a co-organizer for Indy, is very knowledgeable about the blue economy.

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Hello Silvia, great to hear Brandon is part of you team. Give him my regards :slight_smile:

Hi Alexander, I will. Brandon and I talked about your post, I am delighted to meet you through him. We will definitely promote the blue economy concept and case studies.

@Silvia: This sounds very interesting! Do you plan to explore bio-based materials also for the textile industry? In the Circular Textile Challenge Berlin - Materials we also plan to explore bio-based materials but with a focus on fashion… would be great to connect and exchange :smile:
If your challenge addresses also textiles, we could also add it to the Global Node for Textiles.

Hi Sophia, we will include textiles in our challenge, so we are very interested in learning from you and vice versa. Please add us to the Global Node, I am sorry I did not do that yet.

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Hi Silvia. I am very interested in this subject and look forward to learning and hearing more. Bio-based materials are definitely the way to go, but the challenge is the growth of materials at scale for demand including quick growth rates and then recyclability, can they be used again or do the materials go back into the soil to sustain life again.

Hi Jane, we will learn together how to substitute many of the synthetic materials, especially fossil fuel based, with bio-based ones. For many bio-based materials it is just a matter of returning to their use that was abandoned at some point in history and changing the perception that if materials are not highly engineered they must not be good, if not high-tech something is low-tech and that is bad or primitive. It does not help that too many engineers and material scientists do not know biology and agriculture. That is another thing we need to change, in all professions, from narrow specialization to multidisciplinary knowledge and systems thinking.

I see as a major challenge the current locked-in system in product design and manufacturing, where any change, materials included, is considered costly and risky. To counter it, we need to work on the demand side by convincing enough product users of the bio-based materials advantages.

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Excelent! We (Visutopia/TeaterK) have plans of writing a handbook/guide with a list of bio-based/eco friendly raw materials that producers can expect is available in the future. What sertain materials makes impact on what in nature, how much energy is consumed to create for instance . on nature etc.Cambridge university has taken a long term perspective of wish materials construction sector ca rely on in the future.

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Hi Silvia. Thanks for your reply. Very interesting your reply. Why is there the perception that bio-based materials are risky? And does this perception apply in Europe, US or worldwide? Are you saying that there won’t be a demand for these kinds of products from consumers? I know that Coca Cola was producing a soft drink bottle that was 75% from bio based materials. And why are bio based materials so costly in comparison with fossil fuel materials? Also can you provide a context for systems thinking and why it is needed with an example so that I can better see what you are pointing at. Thanks Silvia and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Hi Jane,

Product changes are risky and/or costly, especially when they involve radical material changes. Let’s say aluminum alloy has been used for decades to build a car body. Somebody decides to use hemp fiber. There is no history of the new material structural behavior, even if the body behaves in lab tests as expected and there is no functional difference between the two, a long history of testing it by the regulatory agencies and on the road is needed. Who will take that risk? Think about the electric car, how many false starts have there been in more than 130 years of automobile history. And the EV does not involve radical material changes from the IC car.

The cost differential is based on a false comparison: fossil fuels are not fully priced to consumers, direct subsidies and social and environmental externalities are not included (climate change, air pollution, health, wars, etc). It is these very externalities that drive the need to replace them with bio-based materials.

I am convinced that it will be easy to change consumers demand, but I am worried about changing the supply. Big and complex manufacturers do not change easily.

Back to the car as an example of systems thinking; an engineer is responsible for the car body design. His responsibility and unfortunately many times his curiosity are limited to complying with the product requirements document. Does he know the consequences of making the body near the place of use or as far away as possible for low labor cost advantages? Or where does the car body end up at the end of its use? Does it end there too soon? Does he think about or calculate all the consequences of choosing aluminum instead of hemp? No, but in a circular economy, which requires systems thinking, he has to.

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