HomeNewsTransitioning industrial zones into hubs for circularity
Luca Biada

Transitioning industrial zones into hubs for circularity UT to lead groundbreaking Horizon project for Sustainable Circular Economy Transition

University of Twente’s Sustainable Circular Economy research team, led by  Devrim Murat Yazan is spearheading the innovative Horizon-Europe Innovation Action project, entitled ‘Sustainable Circular Economy Transition: from Industrial Symbiosis to Hubs for Circularity (IS2H4C)’. The consortium, consisting of 35 partners from various countries, will implement its innovative model in four key hubs across Europe: Hub Twente in the Netherlands, Basque Hub in the north of Spain, Höchst Industrial Park in Germany, and Izmir-Manisa Hub in Türkiye. The European Commission has granted a substantial 20 million euros to this transformative initiative, bringing the total budget to  23.5 million euros.

The European Union wants to be the first digitally-led circular, climate-neutral and sustainable economy. But to achieve this, different industries have to work together: ‘industrial symbiosis’. Therefore, this project focuses on deploying systemic industrial symbiosis through innovative technologies like carbon capture and electrolysis. The initiative is driven by the vision of resource efficiency, renewable energy production, waste prevention, and fostering industrial-urban-rural symbiosis.

“IS2H4C is not just a project; it's a movement and systemic shift towards a sustainable and circular future. Our collaboration among European partners is a testament to what we can achieve when we align innovation with environmental consciousness in different geographical contexts and achieve ‘high-tech; human touch’”, says project coordinator Yazan.

Circular economy

The project's ambition is to set a new standard in sustainable regional development models, paving the way for a cleaner, greener future. Its implementation is poised to have a profound impact on industrial practices, societal well-being, and environmental sustainability, making it a landmark initiative in Europe's journey towards a circular economy. IS2H4C also facilitates the market penetration of hubs for circularity through novel financial schemes and social innovation approaches unlocking public and private investment.

For four years, IS2H4C will implement its innovative model in four key hubs across Europe: Hub Twente in the Netherlands (in collaboration with H2 Hub Twente and UT), Basque Hub in the north of Spain, Höchst Industrial Park in Germany, and Izmir-Manisa Hub in Türkiye.

Twente Hub

Twente area contains a small-scale hydrogen hub formed by approximately 20 process industry companies connected to a nearby village, Aadorp. This village is planned to evolve into a positive energy district via becoming independent from natural gas and fossil-based electricity. Several of the planned synergies include the production of green hydrogen gas with electrolysis based on solar and wind energy in five houses in Aadorp.

This hydrogen gas will be transported via existing natural gas pipelines and to-be-implemented hydrogen gas pipelines. The hydrogen will also be used in one crematorium in Twente and will substitute natural gas. A nearby wastewater treatment unit will use the oxygen gas also formed during electrolysis for water purification. The treated water can then be used for electrolysation, completing the circle.

Basque Hub

The Basque hub contains oil refining, steel, pulp and paper,  lime industries, and the public wastewater treatment plant located in the highly industrialized area of the Basque Country. Planned collaborations involve several key strategies: first, using oxygen and hydrogen in the steel industry, potentially from electrolysis in the oil refining sector. Second and third, capturing carbon dioxide from the lime industry and using it to make methane or in the future to create synthetic fuels in the oil sector. Finally, there's a plan to use the captured carbon dioxide from the lime industry to turn steel waste into building materials for the cement industry. These plans aim to use resources wisely and promote sustainability across different industries.

Turkish Hub

Izmir-Manisa area contains oil & gas and household appliances companies, located nearby an industrialized port area on the Aegean coast. Planned collaborations involve a couple of key steps: firstly, producing green hydrogen through electrolysis using renewable energy and capturing carbon dioxide from oil refining with a technology called carbon capture adsorption. This green hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide are then used to make eco-methanol. The captured carbon dioxide is utilized again, this time in making non-isocyanate polyurethane, which is a greener alternative to traditional polyurethane. This non-isocyanate polyurethane is then used in the production of refrigerators, contributing to more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. These planned actions aim to make better use of resources and promote greener practices in various industries.

German Hub

Industriepark Höchst contains chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry, located in Frankfurt am Main. Planned collaborations involve two main steps: first, capturing carbon dioxide, e.g. from waste incineration plants, and second, using hydrogen obtained from existing electrolysis. Both the captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen are then used to produce chemical raw materials e.g. eco-methanol. This eco-methanol serves as a greener alternative to traditional methanol and is intended for use in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. The goal of these planned actions is to promote more sustainable practices by repurposing industrial by-products for the production of essential chemicals in these industries.

More information

IS2H4C, a 4-year major collaborative project funded by the European Commission with a total budget of 23,5 million euros, aims to transform industrial zones into hubs for circularity (H4C) for near zero emission regions. The project, aligning with the European Green Deal and the Fit-for-55 package, is set to become the largest EU project run at UT, involving 35 partners from nine countries. The project will be kicked-off at the beginning of 2024.

Dr. Devrim Murat Yazan is an associate professor at the Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems Department (IEBIS; Faculty of BMS). With a background in industrial engineering, he holds a PhD in the field of Innovation Management and Product Development. He specifically researches  sustainable supply chain management and circular economy, with particular attention on industrial symbiosis networks and sustainable business models. Bio-based economyrenewable energy, and circular construction ecosystems are also within his expertise.

Project information

Project title: Sustainable Circular Economy Transition: From Industrial Symbiosis to Hubs for Circularity: IS2H4C

Project financed by: HORIZON-CL4-2023-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-37: Hubs for circularity for near zero emissions regions applying industrial symbiosis and cooperative approach to heavy industrialized clusters and surrounding ecosystems (Processes4Planet partnership, Innovation and Action project)

Coordinator: Devrim Murat Yazan (d.m.yazan@utwente.nl)

Planned duration: 49 Months

UT research team: Devrim Murat Yazan, Yifei Yu, Alessio Trivella, Daniela Guericke, Marcos Machado, Patricia Rogetzer, Abhishta Abhishta (Sustainable Circular Economy research team in Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems section at the Behavioural, Management, and Social Sciences Faculty), Canan Acar (Thermal and Fluid Engineering department at the Engineering Technology Faculty)

UT student team: Savvas Papadopoulos, Torben Jansen, Casper de Regt, Dimitrios Nikitas

UT Support team: Catalin Popa, Maren Bödding, Marieke Zwennes

Total project budget: 23.311.235 euros

Total project subsidy from European Commission: 19.931.656 euros

Total UT budget: 3.391.935 euros

K.W. Wesselink - Schram MSc (Kees)
Science Communication Officer (available Mon-Fri)