Greenchem is a research program with a goal to develop clean, sustainable technology primarily based on industrial biotechnology to effect the production of “green” chemical products from renewable feedstocks. Greenchem is based at Lund University involving researchers and students from Department of Biotechnology, Environment and Energy Systems Studies and CIRCLE, along with 8 industrial partners. The industrial partners collectively represent an integrated value chain of renewables, producers- and users of chemicals. They are instrumental in the selection of target chemicals for which a reduction in the environmental impact is desired from the manufacturing and application perspective.
The target chemicals for Greenchem are grouped within two broad application areas: “coatings, adhesives and lubricants” and “consumer care and cleaning”. Examples of the chemicals are fatty epoxides, glycidyl ethers, fatty esters, alkylglycosides and alkanolamides. The processes used for the production of chemicals are based on biocatalysis (catalysis using enzymes – the biological catalysts) that offers a potentially cleaner and more energy-efficient means of production than chemical processes, and is also naturally adapted to processing renewable feedstocks. Enzymes are obtained by screening and development in the lab, whenever necessary. Product evaluation and process scale up is done with the help of industrial partners.
To facilitate the application of the developed technology/products, the programme integrates the evaluation of the environmental impact of the chemical products from a life-cycle perspective, and also the analysis of critical factors for introduction of new technologies in the chemical industry.
Greenchem objectives are in accordance with some of the national environmental quality objectives adopted by the Swedish Parliament, such as a non-toxic environment, reduced climate impact, and a varied agricultural landscape.
The programme is financed by The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA) since the start in July 2003. In January 2007, Greenchem received renewed trust to continue the programme until December 2010.