UTFacultiesTNWResearchDept CEPCSNews and EventsDr. Marco Altomare consortium leader FORESEE

Dr. Marco Altomare consortium leader FORESEE Steering Formose Selectivity through Electrochemical Reduction of Aldehydes: Towards Conversion of Biomass to Green Artificial Sugars

The FORESEE project, funded by TKI for Green Chemistry and Circularity, will be lead by Dr. Marco Altomare (PCS) to research steering formose selectivity through electrochemical reduction of aldehydes.

The chemical industry needs to substitute fossil-based energy and resources with renewable, sustainable carbon feedstock such as CO2 or biomass, to reduce environmentally harmful emissions from fossil-derived carbon. To enable a green production of chemicals and sustainably propel societal development, the consortium, involving the University of Twente, Nobian Industrial Chemicals B.V. and BTG Biomass Tech. Group B.V., will develop an electrochemical process to convert liquid and gas products of biomass pyrolysis to platform chemicals useful for biomanufacturing. Besides greening the chemical industry, the process will improve the carbon efficiency of biomass treatment units.

Project scientific summary

Fuels and chemicals derived from renewable resources are desirable for both economic and environmental reasons, as they make it possible to close the carbon cycle, limiting further accumulation of atmospheric CO2. In this project, the FORESEE consortium will develop an electrochemical approach that can be potentially fed with both liquid and gas products of biomass pyrolysis, and can be powered by renewable electricity (wind, biomass, solar), hence providing a novel, green route to convert biomass into artificial sugars or sugar alcohols, as useful platform chemicals for biomanufacturing.

For this, Dr. Altomare and the consortium will investigate a new “electrochemically steered” formose-like process, based on the selective hydrogenation of oxygenated organic compounds. A careful tuning of the electrochemical conditions, e.g., electrolyte pH, applied potential and current density, and electrode material and surface properties, will enable controlled condensation and polymerization of aldehyde and alcohol building blocks, providing high product selectivity by suppressing autocatalytic reactions. The team aims at high concentrations (>20 wt%) of monomeric, well-identified compounds, e.g., acids, monosaccharides and / or polyols.

Besides contributing to greening of the chemical industry, which is urgently needed in the Dutch industrial landscape (and beyond), the electrochemical approach they propose will also substantially improve the carbon efficiency of pyrolysis units.