University to be part of new Hub to make the chemical and polymer industry more sustainable

News | Posted on Thursday 16 May 2024

The University of York is to be part of a major EPSRC-funded research initiative to make chemical and polymer production more sustainable.

The Chemistry building at the University of York

The £11m Sustainable Chemicals and Materials Manufacturing Hub (SCHEMA) will bring together six Universities from across the UK to transform how chemicals and polymers are designed, made and then recycled with the intention of moving away from virgin petrochemical use and to boost recycling rates.


A key focus of the research will be on designing process to harness biomass, carbon dioxide and even industrial waste, in the production of chemical and polymers.

The University of York’s Green Chemistry Centre for Excellence (GCCE) will work alongside the Universities of Oxford, Bath, Liverpool, Cardiff and Cambridge. The Hub will be led by Professor Charlotte Williams OBE FRS at the University of Oxford.

Professor Antoine Buchard, of the GCCE, says his team’s expertise in research related to the development of bio-derived polymers towards more sustainable commodity plastics and speciality ingredients will be a key part of the Centre’s participation on the Hub.


It will also lead on efforts to  integrate digital technologies into chemicals and materials manufacturing.

He explains why the work of the Hub is so important. “The chemical industry is one of the key blind spots in the global net zero energy debate, yet so many essential downstream industries depend upon it,” he says.

“The Hub will bring together academic experts and industry users across the supply chains, to make the manufacture of sustainable chemicals and materials a commercial reality. Developing processes that operate with sustainable raw materials from waste, air and water, and are powered by renewable electricity, is an incredible challenge but our team is well placed to tackle it." 

Notes to editors:

As well as bringing together academics from a diverse range of areas including chemistry, engineering, computation, materials science, and public policy and law, SCHEMA will partner with businesses, professional societies and other international partners to tackle the challenges inherent in making polymer production more sustainable.

These partnerships will enable sustainable chemicals and polymers to be designed for immediate use within key sectors including electronics, transportation, energy generation and storage, construction and fast-moving consumer goods.