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Biochemical Opportunities in the United Kingdom

Category: biobased,biorefining,biofuels
Published: 01/09/2008
Author: NNFCC
NNFCC has engaged Nexant to provide a focused analysis of renewable chemical opportunities in the United Kingdom.


  • Analysis of both market and technical attractiveness for over 40 different chemicals
  • In-depth discussion of the prospects for several particularly attractive chemicals
  • Discussion of how these attractive chemicals may be developed specifically in the UK

Reasons to read

  • To be aware of potential biochemical market opportunities up until 2020
  • To learn what services and organisations already exist in the UK for biochemical development
  • To raise awareness of existing market competition, in order to be prepared for entering the market

Number of pages: 88

Accessibility: This item is freely available


NNFCC has engaged Nexant to provide a focused analysis of renewable chemical opportunities in the United Kingdom. The project is in part being undertaken to gain a better understanding of the opportunities for the United Kingdom to integrate renewable feedstocks into its chemical manufacturing base. Nexant’s analysis will be used to advance research and development programmes in both academia and industry.

Today, the United Kingdom’s petrochemical industry is not a sector of the economy showing tremendous growth. In more recent years major industry players have rationalised and spun off non-core businesses to international industry players, e.g., SABIC, as well as private equity. Many of the traditional household names such as ICI are no more, although their businesses still exist in some form under new ownership.

The UK petrochemical industry suffers from generally high energy costs, high raw material costs and high labour costs compared to different parts of the world, notably the Middle East with its access to low cost natural gas and China with access to favourable investment costs and low labour costs.

However, the United Kingdom does have a wealth of technology development capability, skills and scientific endeavour, particularly in the biotransformation sector. This is positive, but Government and industry support is also necessary.

Unlike biofuels, there is currently virtually no legislative driver for biochemical process development. However, the examples of France, Italy and Belgium, who have policies encouraging the use of degradable plastic bags, show how incentives could stimulate the bio-based chemicals sector. Given a sustained high oil price and acknowledgement of the need for environmentally acceptable chemicals production, renewable chemicals could emerge in the United Kingdom.

The challenge is finding a process that fits the United Kingdom’s market situation, renewable feedstocks, and technology, while attracting appropriate Government and industry support. For this purpose Nexant has carried out a screening analysis from a market and technical perspective to indicate candidate processes for further and more detailed investigation.

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