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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K014749/1
Title: Catalytic Routes to Intermediates for Sustainable Processes
Principal Investigator: Chadwick, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Hutchings, Professor G Shah, Professor N Knight, Professor DW
Claridge, Dr JB Hellgardt, Professor K Wilson, Professor K
Cooper, Professor A Rosseinsky, Professor M Millan-Agorio, Dr MG
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
British Sugar PLC DSM Invista Textiles (UK) Ltd
NEXTEK Ltd Synthomer Ltd Unilever
Department: Department of Chemical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2013 Ends: 31 July 2017 Value (£): 2,402,105
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Design of Process systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Oct 2012 EPSRC Sustainable Chemical Feedstocks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Oil is the most important source of energy worldwide, accounting for 35% of primary energy consumption and the majority of chemical feedstocks. The quest for sustainable resources to meet demands of a constantly rising global population is one of the main challenges for mankind this century. To be truly viable such alternative feedstocks must be sustainable, that is "have the ability to meet 21st century energy needs without compromising those of future generations." Development of efficient routes to large-scale chemical intermediates and commodity chemicals from renewable feedstocks is essential to have a major impact on the economic and environmental sustainability of the chemical industry. While fine chemical and pharmaceutical processes have a diverse chemistry and a need to find green alternatives, the large scale production of petrochemical derived intermediates is surely a priority issue if improved overall sustainability in chemicals manufacture is to be achieved. For example, nylon accounts for 8.9% of all manmade fibre production globally and is currently sourced exclusively from petrochemicals. It is one of the largest scale chemical processes employed by the chemicals sector. Achieving a sustainable chemicals industry in the near future requires 'drop in' chemicals for direct replacement of crude oil feedstocks. The production of next-generation advanced materials from the sustainably-sourced intermediates is a second key challenge to be tackled if our reliance on petrochemicals is to end

The project will develop new heterogeneously catalysed processes to convert cellulose derivatives to high value platform and commodity chemicals. We specifically target sustainable production of intermediates for manufacture of polyamides and acrylates, thereby displacing petroleum feedstocks. Achieving the aims of the project requires novel multifunctional catalyst technology which optimises the acid-base properties, hydrogen transfer and deoxygenation capability. Using insights into catalyst design gleaned from our previous work, a directed high-throughput (HT) catalyst synthesis and discovery programme will seek multifunctional catalyst formulations for key biomass transformations. Target formulations will be scaled up and dispersed onto porous architectures for study in lab-scale industrial-style reactors. We will also seek to exploit multi-phase processes to improve selectivity and yield. This will be combined with multi-scale systems analysis to help prioritise promising pathways, work closely with industry to benchmark novel processes against established ones, develop performance measures (e.g. life cycle analysis (LCA)) to set targets for catalytic processes and explore optimal integration strategies with existing industrial value chains. Trade-offs between optimising single product selectivity versus allowing multiple reaction schemes and using effective separation technology in a "multiproduct" process will be explored. The potential utilization of by-products as fuels, sources of hydrogen, or as chemical feeds, will be evaluated by utilizing data from parallel programmes.

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