The Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC) is the Dutch national research center that investigates chemical building blocks for novel sustainable energy and materials. We are a public-private organisation in which academic, industrial and governmental partners are cooperating intensively. Our many research projects focus on three themes: Functional materials & specialties, Coatings, and Energy carriers.

Sustainable chemistry and energy

ARC CBBC addresses the major, complex societal challenges related to chemistry and energy. We want to provide the sustainable molecules of the future. Our research issues are associated with the growing demand for the finite supply of raw materials, and with the ever-increasing demand for new functionalities to materials. With the ARC CBBC collaboration, bringing industry and academics together in an joint set-up, we aim to help enable prosperity around the globe.

The best the Netherlands have to offer

ARC CBBC is a unique collaboration between the four multinational chemical companies AkzoNobel, BASF, Nouryon and Shell and the universities of Eindhoven, Groningen and Utrecht bringing together top researchers in chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering. Our academic members represent the best the Netherlands have to offer in their fields.



Public-private partnership

ARC CBBC is a public-private alliance in which universities, industries and governmental organizations cooperate. Together, we carry out multidisciplinary research. Our fundamental research spans the breadth of the chemical sector and relies on the involvement of our co-founding companies: the industrial partners AkzoNobel, BASF, Nouryon and Shell. These companies have prominent activities in the Netherlands and in Europe, both in production and in research & innovation.


Other Advanced Research Centers

Besides ARC CBBC, there are two comparable initiatives in the Netherlands. ARCNL  is the Advanced Research Center on nanolithography, with ASML as a industrial partner. QuTech is the Advanced Research Center on quantum technology, with Intel and Microsoft as industrial partners.

Knowledge chain

Our research covers the entire knowledge chain: from pioneering research on novel chemical conversions up to new processes and products aimed at energy-efficient processes, new routes to existing or novel products. Thereby, we aim to become a high-impact Advanced Research Center delivering solutions for the carbon-efficient, energy-efficient economy of the future.

The consortium offers a combination of business pull and technology push, in bilateral and multilateral research projects, respectively. Our research questions are addressed by interdisciplinary teams, each involving relevant types of expertise provided by postdoctoral researchers and PhD students.

Strong collaboration

The Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC) focuses on the science and technology breakthroughs needed to synthesize both new and existing chemical building blocks. ARC CBBC is a strong collaboration between industry and knowledge institutes, exchanging state-of-the-art knowhow, ideas, and infrastructures.

Within ARC CBBC, expertise will be integrated at every scale – from the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scale via supramolecular structures to the reactor scale – in order to tackle challenges simultaneously along different timelines and dimensional scales. The research center links pioneering science to complex industrial issues, potentially leading to vital breakthroughs to sustainably meet future demand for energy and materials.

Projects are part of a strategic chain of knowledge and technology: viable and promising projects are selected by the Executive Board for follow-up in subsequent stages of the program. The selection process involves balancing the short-term and long-term perspectives and innovative character of the various research plans put forward.

Three hubs

ARC CBBC consists of three ‘hub locations’, uniting three technological clusters:

  • Homogeneous catalysis, materials and synthesis (University of Groningen – RUG)
  • Heterogeneous catalysis, materials and synthesis (Utrecht University – UU)
  • Process technology, materials and chemical engineering (Eindhoven University of Technology – TU/e)

Find out more about our history.

Founding partners

Functional materials & specialties


Energy carriers