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Critical Conversations at the European Business Summit: The Commercial Stakes Are Heating Up

by Joseph T. Martinko, President - Thermal and Specialized Solutions at Chemours

Critical Conversations at the European Business Summit: The Commercial Stakes Are Heating Up

by Joseph T. Martinko, President - Thermal and Specialized Solutions at Chemours

Published 12-13-23

Submitted by The Chemours Company

speakers on the stage

Last week, at the European Business Summit, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel addressing “How to create both a competitive and sustainable industrial policy.” It was a unique moment for me to engage with EU stakeholders in a public forum about a critical challenge – how can Europe “go green,” but also stay competitive on a global level. My key takeaway is that there is clearly a shared desire from both industry and government to build this more competitive, innovative, and sustainable Europe, but we’ve got to work closer together and communicate more in order to find the right path forward.

Chemours is committed to a green and digital Europe.

Chemours is a global chemical company with a strong presence in Europe. As president of Thermal and Specialized Solutions at Chemours, building a strong EU industrial policy is important to me because my business is dedicated to delivering clean, safe, and efficient solutions necessary to realize Europe’s green ambitions. This includes technologies used in heat pumps, refrigeration, electric vehicles, data centers, and air conditioning. Innovative chemistries known as fluorinated gases (F-gases) and specialty fluids are fundamental to driving Europe’s green and digital transitions, but policy inconsistency and uncertainty is slowing progress, especially in the residential heating and cooling space, which is where we need to decarbonize at the fastest pace possible.

I firmly believe that sustainability and business competitiveness are not mutually exclusive – but we need policy initiatives and regulations to complement one another, and not work against each other. The number one thing that businesses need from regulators is certainty and predictability in policy, and more and more we see lack of coherence in Europe between the “sustainable industry goals” and the legislations that should support the industry transition.

EU policy and regulation on chemicals are not consistent.

Over the past 15-years, Chemours and the industry have been asked and encouraged to invest in low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants, given they are critical to food security, electric vehicles, heat pumps, data centers, and many other sectors. However, now the EU’s most recent F-Gas regulation is banning these refrigerants, despite long-term investments by industry, broad industry reliance, superior energy efficiency, and performance across applications. There are many other examples, in the hydrogen sector, batteries, and semiconductors.... all these sectors can be at risk without regulatory consistency. When it comes to regulation, we need the right hand to speak to the left, and this was a key message I shared during my panel, echoed by several of the other panelists representing different companies.

Data center immersion cooling could be a game changer.

Another example of an innovation that I’m excited about, but which could risk being banned due to inconsistent regulation, is our game-changing immersion cooling technology for data centers. As many of you may be aware, data centers – or the facilities that store the computing infrastructure and data on which modern society relies – are the invisible backbone of the tech industry and our economy more broadly. Yet the exponential growth in data traffic, coupled with a demand for increased computing speeds, has created a new challenge for these centers – increased heat generation that can’t be remedied by traditional cooling methods.

Fortunately, thanks to innovations in F-gases, two-phase immersion cooling (2PIC) has emerged as a solution. Rather than using air or water to cool servers, 2PIC submerges electronic components into a bath of dielectric heat transfer fluid that is based on fluorinated chemistry. The heat from the servers boils the liquid, transforming it into gas and creating vapor which removes heat – all within a closed system. This process expends no extra energy. In fact, the heat can be recovered for other uses, enhancing energy efficiency and slashing emissions in the process. And the liquid is fully recyclable. It’s a truly circular solution!

Chemistry is part of the solution.

There are many other examples I could mention where our chemistries will be vital to the future. Chemours has innovative solutions that deliver on both technological progress and climate ambitions – top priorities in Europe. Yet emerging regulation—and resulting uncertainty—puts this innovation at risk. In the race to decarbonize mobility, access to advanced fluorinated chemistries will be critical for everything from EV battery production, faster charging, increased range, and heating and cooling, to sourcing, supply chains, distribution, and logistics. If these technologies are banned or severely restricted in Europe, the cost to the EU economy would be significant, with negligible benefit to climate or health.

It's commonly said that “chemistry is the mother of all industries.” The more the chemicals industry innovates, the better it will be for safety and the environment because our materials are at the backbone of Europe’s green and digital transitions. However, industry and government must collaborate more closely to create a realistic, proportionate, and consistent regulatory and policy landscape that allows such solutions to work, and that fosters this innovation.

I left the summit with renewed, but cautious, optimism that this is possible, and policymakers are willing to lay the groundwork for a coherent, science-based, actionable policy framework to unlock a more sustainable future for us all – and I look forward to continued dialogue on how we can achieve this in Europe and around the world thanks to the power of chemistry, together.

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The Chemours Company

The Chemours Company

The Chemours Company (NYSE: CC) is a global leader in Titanium Technologies, Thermal & Specialized Solutions, and Advanced Performance Materials providing its customers with solutions in a wide range of industries with market-defining products, application expertise and chemistry-based innovations. We deliver customized solutions with a wide range of industrial and specialty chemicals products for markets, including coatings, plastics, refrigeration and air conditioning, transportation, semiconductor and consumer electronics, general industrial, and oil and gas. Our flagship products are sold under prominent brands such as Ti-Pure™, Opteon™, Freon™, Teflon™, Viton™, Nafion™, and Krytox™. The company has approximately 6,200 employees and 28 manufacturing sites serving approximately 2,700 customers in approximately 110 countries. Chemours is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware and is listed on the NYSE under the symbol CC.

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