The Swedish financier Mistra is investing SEK 70 million in the four-year research program SafeChem, which aims to create a sustainable chemicals industry and reduce exposure to hazardous substances. The programme is coordinated by IVL and brings together researchers from Stockholm University, Rise, KTH, Danish DTU and industry-wide actors.
– This is a large and significant investment and a first step towards the creation of a research and innovation platform for green chemistry in Sweden and internationally. Mistra's arrangement with a joint program where the research is carried out in collaboration between research institutes, academia and industry gives us great opportunities for both new knowledge and utilization in the companies, says John Munthe, head of research at IVL.
SafeChem’s overarching vision is to promote safe, sustainable and green practices within the chemical industry in Sweden and to reduce the exposure of people and the environment to hazardous substances. Cental in this is to develop new processes for the industry and to deliver a toolbox of models and methods for the risk assessment of chemicals.
Research will focus on proactive risk characterization of new chemicals, new synthetic pathways and processes for design and manufacture of chemicals, as well as developed and improved life cycle analysis. SafeChem is interdisciplinary and will utilize experience from, among others, the pharmaceutical industry. A holistic approach and tools for life cycle management are central aspects of the programme that also targets knowledge conveyance from research to business and society as a whole. The program will also develop a vision and agenda for green chemistry that will form the basis of a permanent research platform.
A series of case studies are projected in which specific synthesis, recycling and substitution processes, at different levels in the value chain and for a number of applications, will be studied and evaluated. A crucial component for success will be collaboration between material and organic chemists, toxicologists and environmental chemists, as well as industrial and product specialists.
SafeChem is coordinated by IVL and will run for four years. There is a total budget of SEK 100 million, of which 70 million come will be provided by Mistra and 30 million by the industry. In addition to IVL, the consortium consists of Stockholm University, Rise, KTH, Danish DTU with a broad industry participation representing different parts of the value chain that manufacture chemicals for use in industrial processes and products. The programme has been awarded grants through Mistra’s call for “Design for reduced exposure to hazardous chemicals”.