Functional materials & specialties

Responsible use of material resources means that by-products from chemical production processes should be considered as useful reactants for the production of new chemicals. Furthermore, smart hybrid materials will enable us to lower our ecological footprints today and in the future.

ARC CBBC will develop innovative specialty chemicals as well as materials. For example efficient, sustainable and environmentally benign heterogeneous catalysts based on abundant and readily available chemical elements. This will enable the chemical industry to manufacture products in a more sustainable and clean way.

Flagship projects on Functional materials & specialties

Ultimate control over nanoparticle structure, composition, size, and location in supported bimetallic catalysts

It is important to acquire detailed fundamental insights into and full control over the structure, composition, size and location of bimetallic nanoparticles on porous support oxides. By bringing different disciplines, covered by the selected PIs of ARC CBBC, together we aim to make important steps forward in the synthesis of supported bimetallic nanoparticles for important catalytic reactions, including but not limited to the hydrogenation of CO2.

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Bert Weckhuysen

Professor of Inorganic chemistry and catalysis
Utrecht University

Robert Terörde

Senior research manager - Catalysis research
BASF

Pyrolytic upgrading of methane to ethylene, aromatics and carbon materials

Methane has tremendous potential as a chemical feedstock. It is an abundant and relatively cheap carbon source with a lower negative environmental footprint than other fossil resources, such as crude oil and coals. Aiming on this, we are now trying to convert methane, CH4, into ethylene, in both an energy- and atom-efficient way.

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Hans Kuipers

Professor of Multi-scale modelling of multiphase flows
Eindhoven University of Technology

Adrie Huesman

Principal External technology - Collaboration advisor
Shell

Bilateral projects on Functional materials & specialties

Development of new catalytic technologies for industrial waste water treatment

With growing environmental awareness and water becoming a scarce resource in certain parts of the world, the demand for water treatment will considerably grow in the future. The treatment of waste water effluents containing biological treatment resistant chemicals (e.g. aromatic compounds, pharmaceuticals etc.) is a very important topic for the chemical industry. The researchers in this project will develop new catalytic approaches to waste water treatment, thus reducing the environmental burden of chemical processes.

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Reactor technology for reduction of metal oxide catalysts

Catalysts used in industry often contain metal oxides of cobalt, nickel and copper where the final step in the manufacturing process of the catalyst involves the reduction of the metal oxide with hydrogen. The resulting catalysts are widely used in the chemical process industry for the production of base chemicals and energy carriers.

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Electrochemical CO2 conversion: elucidating the role of catalyst, support and electrolyte

Producing a solar fuel, by reaction of water and CO2 captured from the environment is an attractive option to store cheap intermittent renewable electricity in a fuel that can be directly introduced to the market, with net zero CO2 emissions.

This project aims to develop electrochemical technology for this application by fundamental investigation (both computationally and experimentally) of catalysts, including metal alloys and innovative supports, and organic electrolytes. In order to screen materials and to rationalize the effect of each interplaying factor, a new testing unit will be developed wherein materials and operating conditions can be varied, mass transfer can be controlled, and in-situ analysis (both quantitatively and qualitatively) of the products of electrochemical CO2reduction is possible.

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Exploration of non-commodity zeolite frameworks for small molecule activation: acidity, reactivity and coke formation

Zeolites are widely used solid catalysts. Although there are more than 235 zeolite frameworks reported, almost all zeolite-based catalytic processes are performed by a limited number of frameworks. These are the so-called Big Five: FAU, MFI, FER, MOR and BEA. More recently, SAPO-34 and SSZ-13 with the CHA structure became important catalysts in e.g. methanol-to-hydrocarbon process and selective catalytic reduction of NOx.

Since industry wishes to develop more sustainable conversion processes, it is crucial to explore the properties of less conventional zeolite frameworks. In this research project, several non-commodity zeolite framework structures are investigated as examples of small molecule activation processes. To gather detailed physicochemical insights of these materials, a wide variety of bulk and local characterization methods will be used, while their performance is studied in the methanol-to-olefins (MTO) process as showcase. The latter allows making comparisons with current MTO catalysts.

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Fundamentals of reduction of nickel-based catalysts

Heterogeneous metal catalysts are amongst the most important industrial catalysts. During catalyst preparation it is of high interest to yield a stable and highly dispersed active metal phase. The reduction of these catalysts is a vital step in the catalyst preparation as it determines the dispersion and thereby activity. There has been a wealth of investigations on the mechanism of reduction, however, most studies were performed either ex-situ or with model systems.

This project focuses on gaining insights into the reduction mechanisms of nickel catalysts. In that respect, it is vital to study the evolution of the active phases of typical catalysts with a combination of complementary techniques. Along with the understanding thus generated, the project aims at improving the synthesis of current catalysts by influencing the reduction processes and beyond that leading to new and improved catalyst properties.

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The re-use of the by-product hydrochloric acid to generate valuable compounds

For AkzoNobel, the project concerns the re-use of the by-product hydrochloric acid to generate valuable compounds, thereby aiming to close the raw material loop, to reduce the carbon footprint and to support the circular economy approach. To be able to do this in an economically viable process, new chemistry and catalysts will need to be developed.

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Polyester synthesis using novel and efficient esterification catalysts

Aim of this project is to develop new catalysts for polyester syntheses with an attractive environmental and economic profile. These catalysts will lead to more eco-friendly processes and will broaden the scope of raw materials (including renewable-based raw materials) that can be used in polyester syntheses.

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