EUR 2 million ERC grant for chemical research at Hamburg University

9 February 2023
Five-year project on replacing fossil fuels with biomass - five new jobs to be created

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded around EUR 2 million in funds for research into a substitute for fossil substances derived from biomass and a suitable catalyst at the University of Hamburg, a press release said Friday (February 3, 2023). Managed by Prof. Dr. Jakob Albert, Faculty of Chemistry, the ERC Consolidator Grant will facilitate the start of the five-year "BioValCat" research project in September and the creation of five new positions.

Replacing fossil-base materials with biomass

"Our vision is to produce platform chemicals from real biomass, for instance, from residual waste. Molecules-derived from biomass have a very complex structure compared to fossil raw materials and have many different functions,. That is the challenge," said Albert. A catalyst would add more information. "However, it is chemically far easier to add rather than extract funcitionalities," he noted. Catalysts made from polyoxometalates will be used to extract carboxylic acid esters from biomass that are needed to produce various everyday products.

Producing carboxylic acid esters from biomass

Carboxylic acid esters are used in the production of packaging, clothing or fruit flavourings. The researchers now aim to  develop an industrially feasible process in which these carboxylic acid esters are obtained from biomass during the  project. That involves researching the use of polyoxometalates dissolved in water which are then added to the biomass as catalysts to obtain carboxylic acid esters. 


Sources and further information

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