ERC – BioValCat ”Enhanced Biomass Valorisation by Engineering of Polyoxometalate Catalysts”
The scientific vision of the BioValCat project:
This project builds on a recent and ground-breaking discovery of the PI in the field of homogeneously catalysed, selective biomass valorisation. Manipulating molecular catalysts like polyoxometalates (POM) in solution by tuning the solvent properties and gas atmospheres introduces a new paradigm in homogeneous-catalysed biomass valorisation technologies.
It has been found that by using methanol as a (co-)solvent, Keggin-type POM catalysts can completely suppress undesired total oxidation to CO2 under oxidative conditions. This drastically enhances the carbon efficiency from biomass compared to the state-of-the-art technologies to close to 100 % yield in formic acid (FA) methyl ester. Remarkably, this manipulating effect could be explained with the formation of a new vanadyl-methanolate-complex being the predominant catalytic active species in methanol-aqueous solutions having a methanol content of at least 10 %.
The project BioValCat aims for developing this potentially disruptive technology towards an industrial viable biomass valorisation process by laying the foundations for a scalable, safe and economic process for the oxidation of biomass to valuable carboxylic acid esters. The project is structured according to the key challenges that have to be mastered in order to achieve this ambitious goal:
a) Spectroscopic and electrochemical investigations to identify the nature of the POM-solvent interactions;
b) Understanding and revealing the key organic mechanisms in solution
c) Development of novel POM catalysts specifically optimised to perform in aqueous-alcoholic solvent mixtures;
d) extension of the substrate and product scope to industrially viable biomass feedstock;
e) Process development, with special emphasis on safety aspects, process intensification as well as product isolation and catalyst recovery.
With the BioValCat project we aim for paving the scientific route to novel, low-cost biomass utilisation technologies with unprecedented selectivity and great promise for decentralised valorisation of biogenic waste streams.
Funded by the European Union (ERC, BioValCat, project no.: 101086573, duration: 01.09.2023-31.08.2028; 1.996.625 €). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
For more information, please visit the research group of PI Jakob Albert at: