ERC starting grant awarded to the lab!
Z-EURECA = ZEolite synthesis in Unusual Reactors for Enhanced CAtalysts
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Approximately 9 out of 10 chemical processes use a solid catalyst, as they increase the efficiency of chemical reactions while being recyclable. Zeolites are one of the most iconic types. These porous crystalline oxides are built from networks of aluminum and silicon nodes and are characterized by regular pores with dimensions similar to most of the molecules that sustain modern society.
Although zeolite synthesis is essentially an assembly of silica and alumina around positively charged template molecules, the outcome heavily depends on kinetics. Yet, classic reactors and strategies barely allow any fine-control over the kinetic interplay, and thus the zeolite made, due the complex and not well understood role of Coulomb and other interactions among the assembling species, and their concentration profiles. Even for established catalysts, synthetic control over their key properties is often lacking. However, such fine-control is essential to develop better catalytic processes in the light of global challenges.
Z-EURECA wants to revolutionize zeolite synthesis, not by the usual search for ingredients, but by introducing new reactor-based handles, specifically external electric fields and fed-batch modes, to exert control over kinetic pathways. Based on new reactor designs, active manipulation of the various Coulomb and interspecies interactions and local concentration gradients during synthesis will be possible.
This bottom-up revolution will i) provide missing insights into the fundamentals of relevant zeolite synthesis, ii) develop active tools that engineer access to synthetic fine-control over zeolites and iii) validate this fine-control in relevant catalytic reactions for superior acid and redox zeolites in prominent sustainable catalysis challenges of our resource-hungry society.