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Friday August 12th, 2022
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Green Chemistry: launch of Increase, a new network combining research and industry

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How to develop a "green" chemistry? Using biomass, a renewable source of carbon, as a raw material is the means chosen by a unique network. Created by the CNRS with the support of the Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes region (1.165 million euros), Increase is a collaborative public-private network dedicated to eco-design and renewable resources. Today, it brings together nearly 200 researchers from eight research laboratories, and chemical manufacturers (in sectors such as cosmetics, agri-food or engineering). With the synergy between research and industry, it aims to carry out cutting-edge research while integrating the problems of marketing sustainable chemical products and processes in France and abroad. Increase also aims to become a global reference network in the recovery of biomass by physical methods.

Green chemistry, geared towards a "more sustainable mode", is now booming, especially as it becomes, in some areas, economically profitable and competitive. One of the current areas of development is to use renewable resources, such as biomass, at the expense of oil. This is the challenge of Increasing, a research federation under the aegis of the CNRS, which has just been created with the support of the Aquitaine Limousin Poitou-Charentes region.

This collaborative network now includes eight research laboratories in chemistry, agronomy, engineering and humanities and social sciences, mostly located in the far west. This first circle will work in synergy with the research and development of several industrialists (large groups but also SMEs). Increase aims to become an international network on research and industrial applications around biomass. And it will be able to draw on both the scientific expertise of its academic laboratories and the know-how of industrialists.

Another objective of Increase is to promote the education of young researchers and the dissemination of knowledge on the themes of green chemistry, through the organization of the World Congress of Green Chemistry (ISGC, held every two years) and consumer conferences and debates.

Any organic matter of plant, animal or fungal origin can be considered biomass: it therefore represents a huge deposit of renewable carbon from which an extremely rich and varied chemistry can be achieved. Increase will focus, among other things, on lignocellulosic biomass, such as wood or straw. Only non-food biomass sources, such as agricultural residues and waste, will be processed.

Energy (heating, electricity) is the most well-known use of biomass. But with Increase, it is the manufacture of products of interest - tensioactives, polymers, solvents, aromas, etc. - that will be at the forefront. It has applications in many industrial sectors, from cosmetics to materials to pharmaceuticals and food. Biomass contains many molecules of interest (sugars, oils, aromatic compounds, amino acids, etc.) that chemists are now able to separate and process. The aim here is not to produce molecules or materials similar to those already on the market, but to synthesize renewable products that perform better than fossil fuel products.

List of eight research laboratories owned by Increase:
Institute of Environmental and Materials Chemistry of Poitiers (IC2MP, CNRS/University of Poitiers)
Research Centre for Economic and Financial Integration (Crief) at the University of Poitiers
Rennes Institute of Chemical Sciences (CNRS/University Rennes 1/ENSC Rennes/INSA Rennes)
Biopolymers, assembly interactions (BIA, INRA Nantes)
Coastal, Environment and Societies Laboratory (CNRS/University of La Rochelle)
Institute of Molecular Sciences (CNRS/University of Bordeaux/Bordeaux INP)
Organic Polymer Chemistry Laboratory (CNRS/University of Bordeaux/Bordeaux INP)
Chemical Engineering Laboratory (CNRS/University Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier/INP Toulouse)

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