About the program
To explore the materials transition, the investment theme focuses on two sectors and on four transition pathways. The two sectors are textiles and building materials. To learn more about the two sectors and their work, see our cases page. The four pathways are; 1) biobased materials, 2) recycling, 3) CO2 capture and utilization technologies, and 4) dematerialization.
1. Bio-based materials
Potentially the easiest way to phase out fossil feedstock-based materials is to switch to biobased feedstocks, such as wood, hemp, fungi, or algae. Our cases will explore innovations within the biobased pathway. In 2022 some of our funded wildcard projects explored innovations within the biobased pathway. Examples are natural dyes, using algae as construction material, or making pineapple fibers (see the funded projects, that explore these options)
Another way to reduce the dependency on fossil feedstocks is it to keep materials in the loop, instead of discharging them. Thus, recycling carbon-based materials is the second technological pathway the investment theme explores. Similar to the other pathways, recycling is complex and connects to related concepts that are captured by the 5 Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and then recycle). The 5 Rs show how the recycling pathway also connects to dematerialization (refuse, reduce). One of the 5 Rs (repurpose) also connects to the so-called cascading use. This means that insulation for buildings could be made out of old textiles. A nice example, of how our two domains (building materials and textiles) connect.
CO2 capture and utilization technologies.
3. CO2 capture
Finally, the investment theme explores the possibilities of CO2 capture and utilization (CCU) technologies. These technologies are still in their infancy. This means that the investment theme will mostly undertake fundamental research within this pathway. In simple terms, CCU means that CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere and tuned into building blocks (molecules). These building blocks can then be put together to form materials.
Dematerialization is framed as a cross-cutting pathway that does not only encompass technological innovations to realize the materials transition. All transition pathways have a social component, but the dematerialization pathway provides more room for social aspects of the materials transition. Dematerialization is not only about using fewer resources in the production process (efficiency). It is also about consuming less, while living a happy, fulfilled life (sufficiency).