"Given the growing concerns over raw material and energy scarcity - the need to innovate and develop less traditional solutions is becoming ever more important," said Werner Fuhrmann, AkzoNobel's Executive Committee member responsible for Specialty Chemicals.
"To accelerate these innovations we are entering into strategic partnerships, all focused on replacing non-renewable raw materials, which could have major environmental benefits."
The collaboration features a number of industry and semi-governmental partners looking to benefit from Enerkem's proprietary technology that converts waste into synthesis gas - a common starting material for products such as methanol and ammonia.
Enerkem is a waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer, and AkzoNobel, a leading global paints and coatings company and a major producer of specialty chemicals.
In this new project partnership, Enerkem will license its exclusive breakthrough technology to convert municipal and other waste feedstocks into chemicals. The final business structure and sites are under discussions and will be announced at a later time.
Vincent Chornet, President and CEO of Enerkem said: "We are pleased to work with AkzoNobel to develop new facilities and products in Europe. With our lower-cost alternative to incineration and landfilling, we help chemical producers offer more sustainable products derived from waste and renewable sources rather than petroleum."
Aimed at closing the loop by converting waste back into useful products, the initial partners are AkzoNobel, Enerkem, the investment and development agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), Groningen Seaports, Rotterdam Partners and the Innovation Quarter. The partners plan to test various local waste streams, including residual municipal and agricultural waste.
"Enerkem's global expansion follows the launch of our waste-to-biofuels and chemicals full-scale commercial facility in Edmonton, which sent a strong signal that our technology is ready to be deployed around the world," added Enerkem's Vincent Chornet.
"We are delighted to be collaborating with AkzoNobel and partners to further demonstrate Enerkem's ability to recycle the carbon contained in non-recyclable waste into renewable chemicals.
"These chemical building blocks hold countless potential applications, and with our combined efforts to develop waste-to-chemicals facilities in Europe, the shift towards a circular economy now appears to be truly within reach."
Waste remains a problem in many regions and is generally regarded as being under-utilised for the production of chemicals. The advantage of Enerkem's proven conversion process is that it is complementary to existing technologies, such as recycling and anaerobic digestion.
"By making synthesis gas from waste, we will have a sustainable and cost-effective feedstock for the chemical industry which would be fully in line with our Planet Possible approach to sustainable manufacturing," explained Peter Nieuwenhuizen, AkzoNobel's Director of Innovation and Partnerships.
The goal is to create a group of partners that all make a unique contribution - waste management companies to provide the waste feedstock and processing capacity, financial parties to arrange funding, end-use chemical companies to handle production and customer sales, and government to facilitate regional investment. Other interested parties are also welcome to join the collaboration.
Within the next two to three years, the partners are aiming to have a plant in Delfzijl or Rotterdam - or both - and become the first in Europe to utilize the new technology.
AkzoNobel - Planet Possible
Investment and development agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM)