A growing share of bio-based and biodegradable products and circular raw materials

We provide solutions that are essential in applications ranging from pharmaceuticals and farming to electric cars and building insulation. Our goal is to deliver not just the desired functionality but improved sustainability performance as well. We work together with customers, suppliers, universities, and other partners to develop innovative and sustainable solutions that have smaller footprints or enable our customers to be more sustainable. These include a growing share of bio-based and biodegradable products and recently introduced, circular raw materials.

Eco-Premium Solutions

Our Eco-Premium Solutions are products that offer significant sustainability benefits over mainstream alternatives in the market while providing the same or better functionality. These benefits can apply to several specific criteria (e.g. toxicity, energy use, use of natural resources, emissions and waste, land use, risks, health). When making comparisons, we ensure that our solution does not have adverse effects on any of the other criteria.

When developing these solutions, we put special focus on delivering environmental benefits, as well as direct benefits to our customers’ operations. Two of our many product lines that deliver such benefits are bio-based polymers and Dissolvine®, readily biodegradable chelating agents for more sustainable detergents.

In 2020, €1.6 billion (33%) of our revenue came from the sale of Eco-Premium Solutions and 21% of our revenue came from Eco-Premium Solutions with a direct customer benefit.

33% of revenue from Eco-Premium Solutions

21% of revenue from Eco-Premium Solutions with a direct customer benefit

Acquired JM Huber’s CMC business, increasing our portfolio of sustainable products

Innovating sustainable solutions

A number of societal trends are driving demand and presenting opportunities for Nouryon’s sustainable solutions. These include a growing and aging population, a rising and increasingly health conscious middle class, climate change, and natural resource preservation. For example, our solutions help increase crop yields and improve crop quality; make products more biodegradable and easier to recycle; make buildings and vehicles more energy efficienct; and increase the durability of bridges and wind turbines.

Our three businesses – Performance Formulations, Technology Solutions, and Nobian (formerly Industrial Chemicals) – use their expertise and collaboration with customers and other partners to develop sustainable, innovative, and high performing new products that meet the needs of our customers and society in an increasingly sustainable way.

Performance Formulations

Within Performance Formulations, we base our sustainable innovations on a range of biodegradable and bio-based products, including chelating agents, surfactants, and polymers based on natural materials. We constantly work on extending our product platforms through partnerships, acquisitions, and technology innovation. For example, acquiring JM Huber’s CMC business in 2020 enhanced our portfolio and technical capabilities in the field of cellulosic derivatives.

Anti-viral and environmentally friendly paint

Anti-microbial agents in paints and other materials can play a key role in helping to keep surfaces clean and safe, for example in hospitals. The challenge is to ensure that these antimicrobial agents are not harmful to the environment.

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Technology Solutions

Our Technology Solutions business contributes positively to sustainability through both product and process innovations. Our new product innovations promote benefits for our customers and the environment. Our process innovations reduce waste, wastewater, and emissions to air, and we continually strive to increase yields and reduce energy consumption.

Sustainable innovations in 2020

Assessing hydrogen peroxide production
The life cycle assessment of our hydrogen peroxide production process, conducted in 2020, shows that we have superior performance compared to the industry. Heat is recovered through integration with other units, hydrogen is used from other processes where it is generated as a by-product, solvents used in the process are recycled and reused, and our new electrolyzer technology reduces carbon emissions.

Cool roof coatings
We combined our Expancel (expandable microspheres) and Levasil (colloidal silica) technologies to create a concept for cool roof coatings. This combination makes it possible for customers to produce coatings that resist dirt and are highly reflective. The higher reflectivity reduces absorption of heat into buildings, which means less need for cooling, increased energy efficiency, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. These coatings can reduce heat absorption by 80% and decrease roof temperatures by roughly 30 degrees Celsius vs traditional dark roofs.

Improved processes
We reduced our salt emissions for several processes by 50% to 90% and the use of catalysts by 80%. We are using alternative process routes, acid recycle technology, and salt recovery technology to limit the salt production of our processes, and we are working towards a zero liquid discharge concept.

Plastic recycling
We discovered that our polymer catalysts can adjust the properties of mechanicallly recycled polymers, allowing them to be upscaled and used in applications now reserved for new virgin polymer streams. Our products also help retain high quality in finished products made from recycled plastics.

Illustration of a house showing how an elastomeric cool roof coating using Expancel microspheres and Levasil colloidal silica can bring down the external surface temperature of a building.
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The Nobian business (formerly Industrial Chemicals) primarily produces salt using a mining process and chlorine and caustic soda through the electrolysis of brine.

We focus heavily on improving energy efficiency in production of essential base chemicals and increasing the share of renewable energy. We also take a leading role in supporting the transition to a more sustainable economy by helping to balance our energy system. 

Sustainable innovations

Circular chemistry
We work with a wide range of partners to accelerate the development of new forms of circular chemistry. Examples include our participation in Carbon2Chem, a project focused on making methanol from CO2 and other off gases from steel production, and our support for Photanol, an organization making new chemicals from CO2 and sunlight.

Green hydrogen
We are also involved in several studies with partners to use green electricity to produce green hydrogen from water. This green hydrogen can be used to make renewable methanol, sustainable aviation fuel, or to decarbonize industrial processes such as steel production. 

Renewable energy storage
We support the use of our salt caverns to safely store hydrogen or other forms of energy, which will play a key role in providing a stable supply of renewable energy.

Stable, cost-effective renewable energy
Using an automated algorithm called ‘e-flex’, we automatically adjust production in our energy-intensive electrolysis facilities to be in line with changes in electricity supplies. This not only reduces cost, but also helps energy providers to balance large swings in supply from renewable sources such as wind power.

Learn more about Nobian's sustainability approach

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Learn more - Nouryon's sustainability pillars