Biomass use and catalyst development to man-made materials

Jour Fixe talk by Dennis Pingen on February 8, 2017

Dennis Pingen is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg and affiliated with the Department of Chemisty.

Several reasons can be mentioned to reduce the use of fossil feedstock as materials resource. A very important one is the required energy that goes along with the process of converting the fossil feedstock to what we actually use. By looking carefully into what Nature offers, we might be able to directly use the components found in biomass. However, an important issue that needs to be addressed is the further functionalisation of these molecules. Of course, as little as possible waste should be created, and for this catalytic processes are in order. However, so far, relatively few catalysts are compatible with the large variety of molecules found in the biomass and thus need to be developed. In addition, the search for more efficient use of the biomass is ongoing as well. Full molecule utilization is desired. To achieve so, several (catalytic) routes are employed in series or even simultaneously.

During this development, many new aspects of catalysts are discovered, which shine new light on the actual mechanism how previously developed catalysts function. Along with this new knowledge, also new catalysts and improvements were made.

In this presentation, the interesting opportunities of biomass are presented, and some of these new aspects of catalyst developments are explained. Nevertheless, problems and difficulties are naturally encountered as well. In some cases these are either “hidden” in the process or presented as minor issues. The opinion of the audience will therefore be taken into account, to induce a discussion, but also for further consultation and ideas of non-chemists.