May 18, 2021

Chemistry of Circular Economy

Simple Chemistry Tools for the Circular Economy One of the underpinning principles…
Avatar David Nicolaides

Simple Chemistry Tools for the Circular Economy

One of the underpinning principles of the circular economy is increasing the use of renewable materials. The use of bio-based materials drives regeneration. It also helps to address the 45% of greenhouse gas emissions associated with materials production and usage, according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.1

The chemistry of this shift in materials is profound. However, simple tools are beginning to appear which help the industrial chemist plan effectively.

One such tool is the BioLogicTool 2 developed by a group headed by Professor Thomas J. Farmer at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, York University in the UK.  Professor Farmer presented on this at the recent online conference sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemists Formulation Science and Technology Group—“Keeping It Green in Personal Care.” 3

If we are to make progress against climate change targets, such software tools need to be readily available to the working materials chemist.

This is completely straightforward using BIOVIA software solutions. Here we show how to implement the BioLogicToolusing BIOVIA Pipeline Pilot and BIOVIA Notebook.

An Improved van Krevelen Diagram

The key finding of the BioLogicTool is that it is all about heteroatoms!  Petrochemicals have few if any of these atoms. Indeed, most of the effort in our current chemicals production is introducing them into our chemical products to get the performance we require.

This is especially apparent in a simple 2D diagram where the heteroatom content (by percent weight) appears on the Y-axis versus molecular weight on the X-axis.

Figure 1 shows such a diagram (see, for example, Figure 4 of Lie et al., endnote 2), except in this instance we see it displayed in an interactive HTML5 Dashboard developed using BIOVIA Pipeline Pilot.


and BIOVIA Notebook, getting such tools into the hands of industrial chemists is simple work.

learn more about our solutions

1 “Completing the picture: how the circular economy tackles climate change”, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, v3, 26 September 2019
2 “BioLogicTool: A Simple Visual Tool for Assisting in the Logical Selection of Pathways from Biomass to Products” Y. Lie, P. Ortiz, , R. Vendamme, K. Vanbroekhoven & T. J. Farmer, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2019, 58, 15945−15957.  Open access at

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