With the use of catalysis in chemistry, we can realise reactions under milder conditions and obtain a maximum yield of the desired product. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops new, catalytic processes for the conversion of biomass into high-quality chemicals.
The development of new, sustainable chemical processes for the conversion of biomass into biobased products is impossible without the use of catalysis. A catalyst ensures that a specific chemical reaction requires less energy (such as heat). In addition to saving energy this ensures that the chemicals are exposed to less extreme conditions and prevents degradation and discolouration. By using catalysis it is also possible to make the desired product from a raw material in a more specific way. This means the raw material is used more effectively and there are fewer purification steps required to attain the end product. If a catalyst dissolves in the reaction medium we call it homogenous catalysis, and if the catalyst is at another stage it is called heterogeneous catalysis. In addition to chemical catalysis (chemocatalysis) there is also biocatalysis, where products such as enzymes are used as a catalyst.
Due to major differences in chemical compounds between biomass and fossil fuels, it is often impossible to apply existing catalytic processes and catalysts directly to biomass. New specific and mild processes and catalysts are needed. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has extensive experience in biomass and the development of new catalytic processes specifically designed for biomass components.
New processes for biomass components
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research makes the choice between using homogeneous, heterogeneous or enzymatic catalysis for the conversion of biomass components based on the raw material requirements for the process. By using our broad expertise and taking a multidisciplinary approach, we can develop the best process for a specific raw material (such as cellulose, lignin, sugar beet pulp or vegetable oils). We realise research and process development for industrial clients, as well as in partnership with leading technological authorities such as the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI). Additionally, we are involved in various research programmes, including the Biobased Performance Materials (BPM) programme, CatchBio, TASC and the BE-Basic programme.
Combination of various types of expertise
Developing new, sustainable chemical processes for the conversion of (complex) biomass components into high-quality chemicals is a challenge. With the right combinations of various types of expertise, such as analytic chemistry, organic chemistry, catalysis and separation technology, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is able to meet these challenges. We have the latest synthesis equipment available, such as high pressure reactors, enabling us to develop industrially realistic new chemical processes for biomass on behalf of our clients.