UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: Chemical Engineering


The UK chemical sector has an annual turnover of over £32 billion with 99,000 direct jobs in 2016. The Centre's vision is to transform the UK's chemical industry into a fossil-independent, climate-positive and environmentally-friendly circular chemical economy. The overall novelty of our programme is the development of a sector-wide solution with deep circularity interventions, by creating a circular resources flow of olefin-the raw material for 70% of all organic chemical production. Our whole system approach will include key sectors of production, transportation/distribution, refinery/downstream, use and waste recycling, to reduce fossil reliance and improve productivity and sustainability of the whole process industry.

The Centre will generate a cross-disciplinary platform combining synergistic innovations in science/engineering with social scientists to comprehend the whole system industrial symbiosis and market/policy/incentive design. The Core Research Programme is organised around three interconnected themes: (1) Key technologies to enable olefin production from alternative/recycling wastes streams and design more reusable chemicals via advanced catalytic processes; (2) Process integration, whole system analysis and value chain evaluation, and (3) Policy, society and finance. Through detailed process modelling, economic analysis and environmental assessment of technology solutions along the supply chain, accelerated understanding, opportunities and optimum solutions to achieve circularity of olefin-derived resources flow will be attained. These activities are embedded with stakeholders involving all affected groups, including local SMEs and downstream users, and will provide evidence and data for policymakers.

The Centre will engage with users through social studies and organised events, and exploit consumer/business behavioural change related to chemical systems enabling a sustainable community and society with innovative technologies.


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