Supply Chain challenges

DOE Analysis: Supply Chain Challenges Hinder Adoption of More Sustainable Chemistries

March 22, 2024
Proven formulations still hold advantages over newer, sustainable options.

Chemical manufacturers face a host of supply chain barriers when trying to integrate new, oftentimes more sustainable technologies, into their product mixes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE’s Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office summarized many of these challenges on its website March 21, citing feedback received during its 2020 and 2023 roundtables.

Among the key challenges cited:

  • Capital and operational expenditure risks require commitments from buyers to make them justifiable.
  • They have already optimized existing chemical properties to meet the unique needs of customers.
  • New products often have slight differences in properties that don’t integrate easily with the rest of the value chain.
  • Downstream customers face additional supply chain risks due to lack of suppliers offering sustainable alternatives.
  • Customers may have to make substantial capital investments to accommodate the new renewable product.

The DOE recommends in its analysis that chemical producers not rely on only one bioresource or alternative feedstock. Also, chemical companies must coordinate with their value chain to ensure feasibility and availability.

This includes integrating new technologies with their downstream processes. Upstream considerations for new technologies include the available resources to meet demand, processes capable of handling mixed feedstocks and efforts to minimize any sourcing-related environmental impacts.

“To progress from a myriad of possibilities to reality, it is important for researchers and investors to consider which solutions have the greatest potential for both commercialization and decarbonization,” the DOE’s Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office concluded in its analysis. “Considering broader supply chain implications during technology development can help remove barriers for promising research, promote collaboration, and appropriately target research goals.”


About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

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