Challenge and approach
CatchBio has initiated an ambitious research program of 8 years in the field of catalytic biomass conversion. Its aim is to process the various components present in biomass (cellulose, hemi-cellulose, lignin, proteins and oils) in useful fuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Also the socio-economical and ethical aspects of the different generated technological options will be investigated.
Accessible crude oil reserves are slowly but surely running out, and with demand in countries, like China and India, rapidly rising geopolitical tensions could run uncomfortably high. One of the areas that could use urgent investment is the development of industrial processes capable of turning renewable biomass into a viable alternative for crude oil. With the appropriate catalytic conversions, biomass could replace crude oil as the primary source material for useful fuels and chemicals.
CatchBio aims to develop clean and efficient processes for biomass conversion into low-cost and sustainable biofuels, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
To tackle the different scientific and technological issues involved in biomass conversion, CatchBio is divided in four research clusters. Three of these clusters center around the three main production sectors of energy, bulk chemicals and fine chemicals & pharmaceuticals.
Ambitions for 2020
Relying on groundbreaking scientific expertise, CatchBio will address in the upcoming years several important challenges which are crucial in the transition to a biobased economy. These challenges include:
- fundamental studies on the stability of the catalysts;
- focused study on drop-in greenification for limited number of current bulk chemicals and biofuels based on specific business cases;
- development of new routes to fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals, preserving functionality and chirality;
- intelligent combination of thermochemical, chemocatalytic and biocatalytic processes;
- characterisation/analysis of raw materials and complex product mixtures.
21 partners are taking part in CatchBio. Among these partners are most of the Dutch universities, research institutes and industries operating in the field of catalysis research. Industrial key players are involved but also more specialized SMEs take part in the consortium.
CatchBio is part of the € 100 million investment program Smart Mix of the Dutch government aimed at boosting innovation in the Netherlands. Approximately half of the M€ 29 budget is financed through this investment program by the Dutch ministery of Economic Affairs and the ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The other half is financed by all the industrial and academic partners involved in CatchBio.
CatchBio is an initiative of the Netherlands Institute for Catalysis Research (NIOK), legally represented by the commissioner Utrecht University. The programme management is carried out by ACTS.
Introduction to CatchBio