Linking process industry and water industry know how to sustain water resources: That is the essential content of the European project ChemWater that has just started. Over 30 months, 11 international partners from science, industry and water utilities will develop a long-term strategy for a sustainable industrial use of water in close coordination with existing initiatives and projects. A special focus will be the exploitation of technological potentials in the fields of nanotechnology, materials and process innovation.
Europe has to come to a more efficient water use to avoid the anticipated impacts of water shortages driven by climate change and other factors. Process industry, especially chemistry plays an essential role: It is both a major water user and a key solution provider for the development of future water technologies. The EU funded project ChemWater aims to coordinate EU strategies across and beyond existing technology platforms in order to integrate and exploit new findings particularly in the fields of nanotechnology, materials and process innovation.
A core rationale behind the project is to highlight the role of the European Chemical and related process industries as solution providers within the context of the complex challenges of industrial and urban water management. This role emphasizes a transformation in perspective which values “chemistry for water” alongside the more traditional “water for chemistry”. Such a perspective allows the project to extend its reach and impact beyond the chemical sector itself to key strategic European process industry sectors such as mining, industrial biotechnology, health, food, electronic, pulp and paper, and energy. On that purpose the relevant European Technology Platforms active in these sectors will be involved, as well as other important national clusters.
The individual building blocks of ChemWater follow an inherent logic: Based on the identification of cross-industry synergies, a roadmap 2050 for technologies and process development will be set up. According to this roadmap, research needs and business development opportunities can be assembled in an action plan. At the same time, concepts for the rapid uptake and commercialization of innovations and for the dissemination of innovation will be formulated. Thus, ChemWater provides significant support for the “Water Efficient Europe” initiative of the European Innovation Partnership. This support will be discussed in a ChemWater workshop in early 2012.
Finally, because the questions which are tackled in the project have an obvious trans-border dimension with interesting market opportunities for EU industry in other world regions, a special emphasis will be put on information in the direction of the border areas of Europe, particularly Russia and the New Independent States on the East and the Mediterranean to the South. To this end, the European instruments already in place - notably International Cooperation Networks (INCO-Nets), Coordinated Actions and other Specific International Cooperation Actions (SICAs) - will be asked to contribute in a global approach.