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INSIDE INDUSTRY
Singapore and Korea Research Institutes to Collaborate on Biomass To-Chemicals Research
A*STAR’s Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH), to promote joint research and collaboration in the field of sustainable chemicals – specifically in biomass-to-chemicals research.

This collaboration between the two national research institutes will see researchers from both countries embarking on joint academic meetings, symposia and R&D projects, and building on the collective and complementary research expertise in chemical and bio-catalysis areas, for the development of green and novel bio-based chemicals and polymers.

The fast-growing bio-renewable chemicals industry not only represents an inevitable shift from the traditional petrochemical industry as it re-invents itself in the light of a carbon-constrained future, but it also offers a valuable economic opportunity for Singapore and Korea to renew their chemical industries and maintain their advantage as leading chemical hubs. Bio-based materials and chemicals are increasingly central to the global chemicals industry, as the chemical industry scales up, reduces costs, secures feedstocks, and cements partnerships. Technology advancements in bio-renewables are aligned to Singapore’s long term R&D thrusts to grow sustainable and biotechnology industries. The partnership will see greater cooperation between the two entities towards technological innovation of green chemical routes.

The development of a bio-based economy is widely seen as one of the key pillars of the new-age economy, which will witness utilisation of viable agricultural waste as alternative feedstock and thus reducing the dependence on current fossil-fuel based feedstock. The development of a bio-economy based on renewable plant biomass has emerged as a key priority for many countries. The global chemical industry is projected to grow 3 to 6% per year up to 2025, with bio-based chemicals market share rising from 2% from 2005 to 22%
by 2025.

The collaboration between the research institutes of the two countries will build on the collective and complementary strengths in both chemical and biocatalysis in ICES and KITECH. As a solid R&D leader in biobased economy in Korea, KITECH explores innovative production of C3-C6 renewable functional small molecules based on noble conversion pathways and green processing. Research collaboration areas include joint R&D on bio-based platform chemicals, bio-processing, pretreatment of biomass and other topics related to Biomass-to-Chemicals.

“We are excited about the collaboration as we see much synergy among the research institutes. It is an immense opportunity to further our research and deepen our capabilities in biomass research with skilled scientists and technical expertise. This partnership will enable us to develop new processes with the right skills to grow this industry with economic and societal outcomes for Korea and Singapore,” said Dr Keith Carpenter, Executive Director, ICES.

“This partnership is a testament of global collaboration in the field of biomass. We look forward to the exchange of ideas and to advance the research so that the R&D capability and global networking will be greatly strengthened,” said Dr Kwon Hyouk-chun, Vice-President, KITECH.

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