GLOBAL - Joining Forces in Sustainable Catalysis and Energy Based on Renewables

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

The goal of a sustainable society requires the efficient use of renewable or sustainable materials and demands the development of selective new methodologies for the preparation of desirable products. In this context we require:
(i) a change from traditional stoichiometric, high energy methods that produce huge amounts of chemical waste to mild and clean catalytic processes and
(ii) a major step change in chemicals production with fossil fuels being replaced by renewable resources as chemical starter units.
In this proposal we have identified a series of collaborative projects that would benefit from the mutual exchange of scientific expertise between St Andrews Chemistry homogeneous catalysis grouping and the Dutch CatchBio (Catalysis for Sustainable Chemicals from Biomass) consortium. This collaboration will allow new links within the EU to be established in order to deliver research excellence. These collaborative areas, combined with a series of international workshops and conferences linked to this proposal, we believe will allow for greater internationalisation and possible commercialisation of our research portfolio.
The challenge to change our societies reliance for chemical production from fossil-fuel based to all-renewable resources is a challenge of enormous scale.This change must be broken down into smaller, manageable components capable of demonstrating the effectiveness of this strategy in order to showcase the transition necessary. In this proposal we will establish links with world leading experts to develop leading examples of this approach and have identified the following areas where we believe collaboration can impact. With added expertise from ourDutch partners we will:
1. Develop optimal catalysts for ether cleavage in 'real life samples' of lignin for maximising the potential of lignocellulose as a source of fuels and fine chemicals. The most successful catalyst systems developed will be immobilized and these heterogeneous systems fully explored and optimised through collaboration with the CatchBio consortium.
2. Develop novel catalytic methods to convert renewable waste feedstocks such as Tall oil to important products such as fuels, chemicals and polymers.
3. Harness the power of automated catalyst and library design to facilitate the preparation of catalyst libraries in both solution and solid state. The utility of this capability will be showcased through the use of CO2 as an abundant C1 building block in asymmetric chemical reduction processes.

Planned Impact

"The UK's "upstream" chemicals industry and "downstream" chemistry-using sector contributed a combined total of £258 billion in value added in 2007 equivalent to 21% of UK GDP and supported over 6 million UK jobs" (taken from the EPSRC/RSC jointly commissioned independent report on the UK Chemical Industry in 2010).
The societal and economic impact of the chemical industry in the UK and more widely in the EU is clear. Nevertheless, the industryis facing immediate huge challenges considering feedstocks and environmental impact. With rapidly depleting fossil resources the future of chemical industry and society as a whole will become more and more dependent on renewable sources for chemicals, materials and energy. Inevitably, this poses the question where the carbon will come from in a post-fossil resources world. Whilst the current awareness of this reality in chemical industry is growing rapidly there are many barriers to overcome to solve these ultimate challenges. Annual worldwide production of biomass, estimated at 56.8 billion tonnes of elemental carbon, is sufficient for a sustainable supply of feedstocks for our chemical industries. However, if these vast resources encapsulated in biomass are going to be exploited without competing with food, a new "chemistry toolkit" must be invented. This toolkit will drive the transition from oil to biomass, make possible the production of "old molecules" from "new feedstocks"and the generation of products that meet an already defined need but that are made from a renewable resource.
The change to such a "new chemical industry" will require a multidisciplinary approach mobilising all the available knowledge, expertise and creativity, in crucial fields such as homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, chemical engineering and biotechnology, but also in biology and agriculture. It is unlikely that important breakthroughs can be accomplished by individual research institutes or even on a national level. Therefore we need to aproach these future demands at the international level. We contend that catalytic conversions of biomass offers the correct mixture of resource efficiency (low temperature, high selectivity), versatility and very importantly familiarity within the industry making them the technology of choice provided that sufficient investment is made to develop them. To tackle the many challenges inherent in this vision we want to assemble a unique team of academics, industrialists and agriculture experts by initiating new and intensify existing collaborations between the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews and the Dutch CatchBio consortium, a public-private partnership of 21 academic and industrial partners aiming at catalysis in the valorization of renewable feedstocks. Together, this team will have expertise across homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, chemical engineering, computational chemistry, high-throughput technologies, the chemistry of carbon dioxide, energy, biotechnology and agriculture. The involvement of several global chemical and energy companies, fine-chemical producers and SMEs in catalyst development in this project will ensure that industrial issues are considered from this early stage. Outside of this the excellent connections of the project team with other fine chemical and pharmaceutical industries will complete this pathway to exploitation.
In summary - to ensure a sustainable chemical industry we need to develop a new "chemistry toolkit", which is a challenge that can only be addressed by combining best available forces on an international level. This is what our proposal is about and we believe the economic and societal impact it will have is huge.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have actually identified the key step in Ru catalysed ether cleavage opening new routes to valorization of lignin as renewable feedstock for the production of aromatic chemicals. More importantly, we have built a long-lasting European collaboration in this challenging field.
Exploitation Route We are still working with many international collaborators on this topic and we have already secured additional funding and many new partners have joined.
Sectors Chemicals

URL http://www.subicat.org
 
Description EU Marie Curie ITN
Amount € 1,480,245 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2017
 
Title Grafting of Technical Lignins through Regioselective Triazole Formation on ß-O-4 Linkages (dataset) 
Description  
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation Hybrid Catalysis BV
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions
Country Global 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation RWTH Aachen University
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Country Netherlands 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation University of Groningen
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation University of Helsinki
Country Finland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description CatchBio 
Organisation Utrecht University
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Via our EPSRC global engagement grant I set up a ST Andrews collaboration with CatchBio, the Dutch national consortium on catalysis based on renewables. This collaboration was expanded with the German Centre of Excellence TMFB at RWTH Aachen and University of Helsinki which led to a Marie Curie ITN €3.94M of which €1.48M is for St Andrews.
Collaborator Contribution My Dutch partner suggested and started the link to Helsinki and together we contacted the partners in Aachen which has resulted in this very strong collaboration
Impact DOI: 10.1039/C4GC01012D
Start Year 2012
 
Description SuBiCat 
Organisation Leibniz Association
Department Leibniz Institute for Catalysis
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am coordinator/PI of this Marie Curie ITN
Collaborator Contribution Assembling a team of world-leading researchers in catalytic biomass conversions
Impact We have organised several international symposia and have several joint papers
Start Year 2013
 
Description SuBiCat 
Organisation RWTH Aachen University
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am coordinator/PI of this Marie Curie ITN
Collaborator Contribution Assembling a team of world-leading researchers in catalytic biomass conversions
Impact We have organised several international symposia and have several joint papers
Start Year 2013
 
Description SuBiCat 
Organisation University of Groningen
Department Stratingh Institute for Chemistry
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am coordinator/PI of this Marie Curie ITN
Collaborator Contribution Assembling a team of world-leading researchers in catalytic biomass conversions
Impact We have organised several international symposia and have several joint papers
Start Year 2013
 
Description SuBiCat 
Organisation Utrecht University
Department Debye Institute for NanoMaterials Science
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am coordinator/PI of this Marie Curie ITN
Collaborator Contribution Assembling a team of world-leading researchers in catalytic biomass conversions
Impact We have organised several international symposia and have several joint papers
Start Year 2013