Students asked experts about Petrochemistry and environment in an online chat

15 schools all around Europe attended the third Xperimania online chat on 31 January focusing on the topic: Petrochemistry: caring for the environment? Students’ questions were answered by two top experts, Dr. Roger Van der Linden Group Manager for Environment, Energy and Product Stewardship – Borealis and Dr. Joachim Krueger, Executive Director of the Energy, Health, Safety & the Environment & Logistics Programme at Cefic.

During the two hour chat session, students from Spain, Belgium, UK, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Portugal, Cyprus, Sweden and Finland posed more than 50 questions to the experts. The discussion was lively and the experts were extremely satisfied with the high level and diversity of the questions.

Many people perceive petrochemistry as harmful for the environment. Tremendous efforts are however being undertaken by the petrochemical industry to protect the environment. In the online chat students could learn that petrochemistry manufactures products for modern lifestyles and is increasingly environmentally-conscious.

Dr. Joachim Krueger from Cefic explained that even if new technologies could have limited effects for the environment, strict regulations are now in place which limit all emissions.  He also felt that it is still worthwhile to continue the technical developments, while that is the only way to seize new technical opportunities: “Innovation is the key - we have to stay tuned on technological developments.”

Many students were very interested in issues related to the availability of oil resources. Dr. Roger Van der Linden from Borealis answered to a question from Slovenian Gimnazija Poljane that if all the world’s oil resources would vanish in one moment, there would be no more transportation, no industrial products, nor plastics – we would be back in the Stone Age. Anyhow, Dr. Van der Linden mentioned also that plastic industry consumes only 4% of world’s oil reserves, and that there is at least as much oil in reserves to be exploited in future, as there is in the current, proven reserves.

Furthermore students wanted to know, if there is a possibility to find oil in Mars, and whether there was a possibility to replace oil by biomass. The chat became philosophical, when the experts were answering on the question of the Polish VI Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace about going back to a natural environment: is that a desirable ideal? Dr. Krueger pointed out that nature by itself is not always human friendly - for example bugs or viruses. A healthy lifestyle needs modern products to keep us alive.

Students from the Swedish Buråsskolan were also interested in the possibilities of working in petrochemistry: If a teenager wants to become a chemist, which would be the best chemistry areas to work with? The experts confirmed that expertise in petrochemistry doesn’t exclude working in other chemistry areas. The prospects of working with chemistry will be the topic of the next Xperimania online chat.

To register for the next chat, please contact

Chat transcript

Background article

CP Serra Gelada School, Spain.
Teacher coordinator: Bernat Martinez
CP Serra Gelada School, Spain.
Teacher coordinator: Bernat Martinez
Chat experts and moderators from European Schoolnet and Cefic/Appe.
Chat experts. From left: Dr. Roger Van der Linden, Borealis, Christian Gilliard, Cefic/Appe, Pierre de Kettenis, Cefic/Appe, and Dr. Joahim Krueger, Cefic/Energy.


About the experts

Roger Van der Linden - graduated as a Ph.D in Science from the State University of Ghent, Belgium in 1974. In his professional career he has been working for companies in the polymer industry like Exxon, Raychem, Mobil, Neste and Borealis in a variety of technical and managerial functions. For the last few years he has been working as the Group Manager for Environment, Energy and Product Stewardship at Borealis. He is also leading a team to prepare his company for the REACH legislation. Roger has been the president of Fedichem Polymers (the Belgian Federation of Polymer Producers) for the last 10 years, and a board member of Fost Plus, the Belgian Recycling Organisation. He is also active in a number of associations on national and European level, like Cefic and PlasticsEurope in the field of environment and producer responsibility.

Dr Joachim Krueger - joined Cefic in January 2007 as Executive Director of the Energy, HSE & Logistics Programme. As such he is responsible for key environmental issues such as climate change, water, waste and soil. Prior to joining Cefic he was Vice President Global Shared Services EHS (Germany/USA) since 2002, and held various positions at Celanese: Director Environmental, Health and Safety Affairs (USA), Director Research and Technology (Germany) and Director EHS/Europe (Germany). He previously worked for Hoechst as Assistant to the Board of Management. Joachim Krueger started his career as Head of Laboratory R&D Inorganic Chemicals, followed by six years as Supervisor and Plant Manager Manufacturing. Joachim Krueger has also been a member of several trade associations in Europe and North America.