We find ourselves at the dawn of a sustainable society that is more in balance with nature as opposed to the traditional exploitation of earthly resources in a linear fashion. This transition requires a paradigm shift in mindset and policy but most importantly in knowledge and technology which will ultimately deliver the same material and energy security but in a sustainable way. On one hand is the energy issue (moving from fossil fuels to renewables) and on the other is the sustainable transformation of (recyclable) raw materials into products (cradle-to-cradle philosophy/ circularity). The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The runway to the 2050 goals is not a switch but rather a transition, where improving the efficiency of currently used processes also plays a significant role. The challenge that we identify as chemists is that while fossil fuels consist of chemically simple carbon and hydrocarbons, recyclable raw materials mainly are sugars, proteins, lignin etc, which are chemically complex (functional group rich). New chemical processes need to be developed to use these new feedstocks, and also processes need to be developed that use waste as feed stock. Here, catalysis is key.
In this context, at the homogeneous, supramolecular and bio-inspired catalysis group we take a holistic approach to our research. We are a research group with a strong foothold in the fundamentals of catalysis. We strongly believe that fundamental research dedicated to understanding of the nature and behaviour of chemical systems is essential if we want to find technological solutions that will lead to attractive applications. Our research can be divided in 5 well-connected research lines to develop fundamental knowledge and new concepts, as well as deliver applications thereof. We also encourage valorisation of research output in the form of spin-offs and strive to create an ecosystem where academic entrepreneurship is highly stimulated.