LIFT funding for HIMS researchers in sustainable chemistry
Public-private co-operation in developing innovative future technologies
Tati Fernández-Ibáñez and Moniek Tromp of the the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) have both received funding through the LIFT programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO. In two public-private partnership projects a PhD student and a postdoc researcher will be employed.
The LIFT programme (an abbreviation of 'Launchpad for Innovative Future Technology') is part of the Fund New Chemical Innovations (Fund NCI), intended for public-private partnership in chemistry. LIFT enables a quick start for projects in which research questions of one or more industrial partners are addressed in cooperation with one or more knowledge institutions.
Towards sustainable biaryl synthesis
Tati Fernández-Ibáñez, assistant professor of organic chemistry, will cooperate with researchers of DSM in Geleen in developing new sustainable methodologies for the synthesis of biaryl compounds. These have a wide variety of applications in the chemical industry.
The current production of biaryl compounds is based on cross coupling reactions of prefunctionalized aryl moieties. This requires preparatory synthetic steps, which is cost- and time-consuming and generates waste. In her research Fernández-Ibáñez aims at the discovery and development of new protocols for a more efficient synthesis of biaryl compounds.
The LIFT-research will focus on the oxidative cross dehydrogenative coupling (CDC) of two simple arene units. This does not require any preactivation of substrates and therefore holds the promise of a far 'greener' biaryl synthesis. However, it requires new catalytic systems capable of promoting aerobic CDC reactions with the prospect of real implementation in the chemical industry. To reach this goal, high regio- and chemoselectivity as well as turnover number (TON) need to be achieved.
Understanding metal oxide catalysis
The LIFT project of Moniek Tromp, associate professor in catalyst characterization, aims at optimalisation and innovation in (mixed) metal oxide catalysis.
Over 90% of all industrial processes depend on catalysis and this quite often implies the application of (mixed) metal oxides. Even so there is a lack in understanding of the synthesis process of these materials and its influence on the catalytic characteristics. As a result the rational design of catalytic (mixed) metal oxides with defined properties is rather complicated.
Together with researchers from Clariant in Germany, Tromp will study the industrially applied fast precipitation processes of the mixed metal oxides at real conditions (e.g. high metal concentrations). Furthermore she wants to establish in detail the effect of post-synthesis treatment on the material properties.
Tromp will apply so-called 'operando spectroscopy' in which the spectroscopic characterization of the materials is coupled simultaneously with the measurement of catalytic activity and selectivity.
The acquired knowledge will allow optimisation of synthesis processes of the catalyst, resulting in optimum material properties and increased catalytic performance (regarding activity as well as selectivity). It will also enable the rational design of new catalysts based on sustainable materials (cheap, abundant and non-toxic) to replace current industrial catalyst materials (e.g. chromium).