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čas: 3.7.2022 00:19:39
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Every year, the French Embassy in the Czech Republic awards prizes to young researchers for their results obtained during their doctoral studies. This year, the main prize for environmental and climate research MAKE OUR PLANET GREAT AGAIN 2022 was won by Jaroslav Aubrecht from the GreanCats group.
The quality of Jarda’s contribution entitled "Development of Cr-free environmentally-friendly hydrogenolysis catalysts to make ester hydrogenolysis sustainable" was evaluated as the most successful by the international commission composed of members of academia and industry. At the awards ceremony, which took place at the Buquoy Palace, home of the French Embassy in Prague, the winner was presented with a financial check and a scholarship for a month-long internship in France. The ceremony was attended by the French Ambassador to the Czech Republic Alexis Dutertre, the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Helena Langšádlová, the Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and economics Jean-Marie Lehn and Jean Tirole and other representatives of companies and universities. In particular, Jean-Marie Lehn tried to share his experiences with young scientists during the ceremony and give them further motivation for their work.
At the end of May, our research group participated in the School on Catalysis 2022 that took place at the chateau Liblice. The conference was attended by a number of students and researchers from all over Europe – the Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Germany, Austria, and Finland. There were many interesting plenary lectures on catalyst preparation and characterization techniques, theoretical approaches to catalysis, fine chemical synthesis, sustainable chemistry, ethics in publishing and scientific writing. Our members, Babar and Snehasis, presented their posters, while Valeriia presented her short lecture. This year's novelty was the flash poster presentation before the poster session, during which the participants had the opportunity to present their scientific results to an audience for a short 2 minutes talk. Our guys Babar and Snehasis did an excellent job with this task. Valeriia presented her research on the topic ‘Synthesis of catalysts derived from MgM3+ layered double hydroxides and their application in aldol condensation’, which was awarded one of the three best oral presentations among PhD students. Congratulation Valeriia.
Our group attended the 5th Catalytic Seminar in May 2022 at the Faculty of Chemical Technology, University of Pardubice. "This was our first opportunity as PhD students for presenting our work to an audience of experts," said Babar. He presented his work on "Cu/Al-SBA-15 catalyst and its activities in dimethyl adipate hydrogenolysis"; while Snehasis introduced his recently started work on "HDO of anisole over Ni/Al2O3 catalyst". Moreover, our colleague Valeria presented an oral talk on her topic "On the effect of the M3+ origin on the properties and aldol condensation performance of MgM3+ hydrotalcites and mixed oxides." Besides our talks, there were other interesting topics like photo-catalysis or CO2 reduction which we carefully listened. Our trio of speakers was completed with our leader David. The event also gave us an opportunity to meet professors and PhD students from universities across the Czech Republic. We are thankful to the organizers for their hospitality and for a fruitful conference. Next year, the 6th Catalytic Seminar will be held at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague.
On Friday, May 27, prof. Joseph Samec from the University of Stockholm was hosted by our group at UCT. This excellent scientist with Czech roots gave a lecture on green chemistry on the topic of Lignin-first - beyond monophenolic compounds, in which he emphasized the importance and benefits of lignin processing as one of the main components of biomass. He also outlined modern trends in its processing in order to obtain valuable chemicals. In a subsequent discussion with the participants of the lecture, he discussed the chemical mechanisms taking place during the processing of lignin or the financial complexity of the whole process. Due to the fact that the topic of biomass processing and the formation of phenolic substances is one of the main scientific topics in our department, the lecture and discussion were welcome. In the second part of his one-day visit, he discussed the main research directions and shared his valuable advice and experience with GreenCats members. Thank you Joseph!
It was not possible to attend any conference in person during the past two years due to the COVID-19 crisis. Luckily, we survived, the dark times are over and conferences are now open. Our young trio – Jarda, Bogdan and Andrey, travelled to France to visit International Symposium on Green Chemistry 2022 in La Rochelle. The main conference topics reflected our environmental issues such as carbon neutrality and energy sustainability In the following decades. Therefore, most of the contributions were focused on biomass valorisation, production of green fuels, or green upgrade of current processes in terms of process sustainability. Our team gave three oral presentations on our current research topics. We believe that our contribution enriched the chemical society.
- Investigation of environmentally-friendly Cu-based hydrogenolysis catalysts.
- Investigation of demethoxylation mechanism of anisole over Raney-Ni catalyst.
- Production of fuel precursors by aldol condensation of furfural with acetone using hydrotalcite-based MgAl catalysts.
It is our pleasure to extend our research team. Snehasis Dutta is our new PhD student.
I am from Kolkata (India), where I completed my Master study at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. Later I was working as a scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai. It was during my service that I got exposure to catalytic hydrogenation and have developed a keen interest due to plethora of its real-world applications.
My inclination toward academic research along with the aspiration for getting exposure to cutting edge research has motivated me to pursue PhD in catalysis. I came across the open position in GreenCat research group on LinkedIn. Going through the work and focus of the research group, gave me an immediate feeling that it was a perfect fit for me. My discussions with David during and after the selection interview further inspired me to come here.
It has been one month since I have joined the lab and I found everyone here to be very friendly and welcoming. The spirit of the team is always high; they made me feel like a team member from my day one. I would begin my research here on ‘Ni-Cu catalyst for hydrogenation of biomass-derived phenolic compounds’ very soon. Coming back to a beautiful campus, after a long term of service, made me feel like being at the seat of knowledge and learning.
Coming to Prague I was awestruck by its beauty. The city is filled with ancient and baroque buildings architecture. “The city of a hundred spires” is the most picturesque city in the world. Along with its vibrant culture and friendly people, being here is just enthralling.
This January, the part of our group focusing on aldol condensation published a new article in Applied Catalysis A. MgAl-hydrotalcites (HTCs) are widely used as basic heterogeneous catalysts in aldol condensation. Their calcination followed by rehydration increases their basicity and catalytic activity. In the current article, we described in detail the effect of repetitive “calcination-rehydration” treatments on the properties and catalytic performance of MgAl HTCs with dependence on the rehydration conditions and the number of repeated calcination-rehydration cycles. Enjoy your reading.
Two students of our group got Ph.D. degree. Viola and Jarda focused on the development of catalysts for ester hydrogenolysis. Although the process uses efficient CuCr catalysts, an environmentally-friendly catalyst needs to be searched for. Viola deeply investigated the CuZnO catalytic system, where she described the effect of many preparation methods on the final catalyst structure and activity. Also, the catalyst precursor resulting in the very active catalyst was identified. Jarda synthesized various promoted and supported Cu catalysts and elucidated the contribution of each promoter or support. Also, he deeply investigated the mechanism of dimethyl adipate hydrogenolysis.
As part of my MEng in Chemical Engineering, I am required to carry out an independent research project in Semester 2 which can also be done abroad as part of Erasmus+. Even though there were numerous destinations we could go to, Prague was immediately my first choice. As my home university, the University of Strathclyde has an agreement in place with the University of Chemistry and Technlogy Prague (UTCT) the only other thing was to find a project I would be interested in and be able to learn new things as part of!
While looking through the list of departments and their areas of research I was immediately drawn to the GreenCats Research group as the research seemed applicable, relevant and quite frankly really interesting. After doing some more research I had realised another Strath student had done their Master’s thesis with the Research team a few years back and has thoroughly enjoyed his experience. This prompted me to reach out to David and see if there was any chance of me doing something similar and joining the team for a few months to complete my thesis. Luckily for me, we hit it off straight away and the rest is history. I am currently looking into the kinetics associated with the hydrogenolysis of dimethyl adipate using CuZn catalysts. This is an area I knew very little about, which has presented challenges at first but I am now really enjoying the complexity of it and hopefully, the outcome will be a positive one with a finished thesis, some new friends and a breadth of knowledge and experience gained through carrying out the project here in Prague.
Now writing this after spending a month here at UCT, I can confidently say I am utterly in love with Prague, its culture and its energy. I expect to be back very soon after finishing, maybe even living here full time at some point. Big thanks to the team for making me feel very much at home within their space. I look forward to whatever the next few months bring (alongside the sunny weather I hope!).
Laura Karacic, trainee.
The new year brings us a new big opportunity. Now, we are equipped with a TPR/TPD/TPO instrument that will help us to determine catalyst properties and probe the catalyst surface. Our instrument AMI-300 provided by Altamira Instruments has a unique setup. Besides the standard TCD detector, the unit is equipped with an FTIR measuring cell. It extends the possible use as the catalyst surface can be analyzed in situ during/after the sorption process. Finally, we will be able to measure:
- temperature-programmed reduction and oxidation
- adsorption/desorption of NH3 or CO2 to determine catalyst acid-base properties
- adsorption/desorption of volatile organic compounds on the catalyst surface
This equipment allows us to further understand the structure and properties of our catalysts. If you would like to learn more, do not hesitate to contact us.
We are excited that we have received funding for two new projects to be executed in the GreenCats group. The journey to a new project is a long one with a success rate of about 20 % at the Czech Science Foundation, and now we obtained funding for two projects. It is not only a success but also a great opportunity for students to taste real science.
Investigation of the key factors affecting hydrogenation/deoxygenation of mixtures of oxygenates
At the end of 2021, the Czech Science Foundation accepted our project that is being executed in cooperation with the Institute of Environmental Technologies at VŠB-TU (diagram on the left). This is a three-year project, whose main goal is to describe key parameters affecting the heterogeneously catalyzed hydrogenation/deoxygenation of oxygenates obtained from biomass processing. We will study the most common furanic and phenolic compounds. Consequently, we will be able to tailor the catalyst to target selectively either cleavage of the carbon-oxygen bonds or hydrogenation of the aromatic ring.
Controlling reaction pathways in hydrogenation of sugar-derived oxygenates by catalyst design
In October 2021, we started to work on a three-year project in cooperation with the University of Łódź in Poland. The aim of the project is to valorise substances derived from cellulosic biomass, namely 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural and levulinic acid. Their conversion will be catalyzed by highly active ruthenium catalysts. Our partner at the University of Łódź will synthesize these catalysts by a unique method allowing them to control precisely the size of the supported Ru nanoparticles We will focus on the thorough characterization of the catalysts and their testing in the hydrogenation of 5-HMF and levulinic acid using our hydrogenation units.
Cooperation with students is essential for the successful execution of research projects, therefore bachelor's and master's theses are offered on both topics. If interested, please contact us for more information.
Our research group is focusing on the application of the mildest (“greenest”) conversion processes for the catalytic conversion of the different bio-originated feedstocks (bio-oil, lignin-derived phenolics etc.) onto the bio-originated chemicals.
Understanding the nature of chemical processes associated with the conversion of the lignin‑derived phenolics is an important way for further process optimization for useful chemicals production or phenolics-rich streams (pyrolysis aqueous phase) treatment for their utilization in wastewater treatment plants. Hydrotreatment of lignin-derived phenolic compounds over Raney-Ni with a continuous regeneration of the H-donor solvent can be a good opportunity how to produce valuable chemicals at mild reaction conditions. Here, the behaviour of different phenolics during hydrotreatment is discussed regarding their structure, followed by the upgrading of the phenolics mixture extracted from the pyrolysis oil aqueous phase
We are happy to share our new paper discussing the importance of the optimization of the temperature profile in a fixed‑bed reactor. This could prevent bio‑oil excessive coke formation and produce a more uniform and stable product. The bio-oil conversion into useful liquid products is still challenging due to possible plugging of the reactor and catalysts pores with coke species, decreasing its performance and, as a result, deterioration of the properties of the product. Our team explored how does temperature profile (heating rate) affect bio‑oil hydrotreatment to deeply understand the nature of bio‑oil.
Alessio Zuliani joined the lab as post-doc during a Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM) COST Action in January 2020. He investigated the hydrogenolysis of anisole, a lignin model compound, using waste-derived Ni catalysts. The exchange of know-how with Greencats Lab allowed performing the reaction in a barely explored and innovative way, successfully accomplishing the objectives of the STSM.
In September 2021 we published our new article in Catalysts about the effect of the metal (III) origin on the properties and aldol condensation performance of hydrotalcite-derived materials.
Hydrotalcites (HTCs) are promising solid base catalysts to produce advanced biofuels by aldol condensation. Their main potential lies in the tunability of their acid-base properties by varying their composition. However, the relationship between the composition of hydrotalcites, their basicity, and their catalytic performance has not yet been fully revealed. Here, we have synthesized a series of magnesium-derived HTCs with the various trivalent cations (M3+ = Al, Ga, Fe, In) and evaluated the derived mixed oxides and reconstructed hydrotalcites with respect to their physicochemical properties and catalytic performance in aldol condensation of furfural and acetone. This allowed us to elucidate the role of the trivalent cation on the structure, properties, and catalytic performance (including its stability) of the synthesized materials.
GreenCats participated in School on Catalysis that took place at the chateau Liblice in October. Our members, Violetta Pospelova and Jaroslav Aubrecht presented their short lectures, while David Kubička and Valeria Korolova presented their posters. There were many interesting plenary lectures on different Catalyst Characterization techniques such as FTIR spectroscopy, Scanning Probe Microscopy, Temperature Programmed Methods and NMR. Moreover, there were also non-scientific lectures on other aspects of researchers' life such as promotion of science and publishing in scientific journals. It was a pleasure to be a part of this conference!
Where can you see our GreenCats group next? 52nd Symposium on Catalysis in November! More details here: http://www.catsymp.cz
GreenCats recommend you to leave your laboratory or the office and go for a trip!
This year, the whole GreenCats team went for a trip to Bohemian Paradise that is known for its beautiful nature. We went hiking and visited the Frydstejn castle ruins that were spectacular.
Besides that, each GreenCats member had a presentation on the latest results, progress and research plans. Everyone could share his ideas and new thoughts on the current projects in the informal atmosphere. Moreover, we also enjoyed the team-building activities such as playing games or cooking food together. Thank you, GreenCats teammates, for a great trip!
Last year, we have started to examine Cu supported catalysts for ester hydrogenolysis. Since that time, we have published three articles and two of them right now.
Aubrecht J., Pospelova V., Kikhtyanin O., Veselý M., Kubička D.: Critical evaluation of parameters affecting Cu nanoparticles formation and their activity in dimethyl adipate hydrogenolysis. Catal. Today
Aubrecht J., Pospelova V., Kikhtyanin O., Lhotka M., Kubička D.: Understanding of the key properties of supported Cu-based catalysts and their influence on ester hydrogenolysis. Catal. Today
The first study is focused on the use of 10 supports for Cu deposition. We described the support features affecting the active site formation and final catalyst activity in dimethyl adipate hydrogenolysis. As the study was conducted, the alumina- and zirconia-based supports were estimated as the best option to prepare them. The full study you can read here.
The following article deals with only four promising supported catalysts from the first study, but the preparation method was changed to evaluate its influence. Again, both alumina- and zirconia-based supported catalysts were very active. Continue reading here.
Nonetheless, the story does not end. We continue...
Jon Ander was in the lab every day during one semester in 2019. He gained experience with reactor operation during the testing of CuZnAl catalysts in ester hydrogenolysis. Then, he easily passed the ERASMUS Project A and his Thesis. READ MORE
How can a different synthesis method affect the properties and the activity of Cu/ZnO catalyst? Our answer is REMARKABLY!
To the best of our knowledge, we compare for the first time the properties and hydrogenolysis activity of Cu/ZnO catalysts synthesized by five different methods including incipient wetness impregnation, wet impregnation, deposition-precipitation, chemisorption-hydrolysis, and co-precipitation. We believe that these results would be valuable for the further development of environmentally friendly Cu/ZnO catalysts with small, stable, and active Cu nanoparticles. If you also want to find out what is the role of the synthesis method on the way to the efficient Cu/ZnO catalyst for ester hydrogenolysis, you can check our latest article published in Applied Catalysis A: General.
This is my first physical educational conference in Europe after one year of covid lockdown. I was very excited and eager to present my research work after the lockdown at one of the most renowned catalytic conferences in the Czech Republic. School of Catalysis is an excellent conference to network with PhD scholars and professionals who share the same interests. I have presented my lecture "Investigation of Acid-base Modified SBA-15 Catalyst for One-pot Aldol Condensation and Hydrodeoxygenation of Furfural and Ketone to Bio-jet Fuel". All presentations were informative and allowed the audience for a discussion. It was a great chance to learn about updated research and meet people from all over the Czech Republic Universities and Industries.
Besides Maha, our a new PostDoc student, some other members of our group participated there.
David presented a plenary lecture "Catalysis – A Key to Sustainability";
Andrey were talking about "Hydrogenolysis of Fatty Acid Methyl Esters over CuZn-based Catalysts"
and Valeriia share her experience with"Synthesis of Catalysts Derived from MgAl Layered Double Hydroxide and Their Application in Aldol Condensation
We are looking forward to participate there again in October.
Our ladies Violetta Pospelova and Valeriia Korolova participated in The International Congress of Chemical and Process Engineering CHISA 2021 organized by Czech Society of Chemical Engineering and Dechema. The Congress was held virtually from 15 to 18 March 2021. It covered a wide range of Topics starting from Energy, Waste Management to Chemical Engineering and, of course, Catalysis. Violetta presented the talk about the effect of synthesis methods on Cu/ZnO catalyst properties and activity. Valeriia presented her recent results on the impact of rehydration on hydrotalcites activity in aldol condensation. If you want to see the presentations, they are available online
- How did you learn about our group? How did you get here?
My first acquaintance with The GreenCats Research Group happened several years ago when Oleg Kikhtyanin had a business visit to Boreskov Institute of Catalysis (BIC) where I had been working for 10 years. He described the scientific directions and achievements of The GreenCats Research Group, which of course aroused great interest for the researchers from Russia. This meeting became the basis for joint research and the submission of a joint application from The Research Group of Assoc. Prof. David Kubicka from the UCT Prague and the laboratory of Prof. Vadim Yakovlev from BIC. Subsequently, David Kubicka invited me to join the group to continue the research under a joint Czech-Russian project.
- What is your project at UCT about?
My research work in UCT is under several directions. The first one is simultaneous deoxygenation of acids and phenols in pyrolyzed wastewater sludges in the frame of a joint Czech-Russian project. Sewage sludge (SS) from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants could be used for the production of pyrolysis liquid (PL-SS). Currently, the sewage sludge is primarily disposed of via landfilling and incineration that are not environmentally friendly methods due to the high concentration of potential carcinogens (heavy metals, dioxins, pathogenic microbes, etc.) in SS. That is why the pyrolysis of the SS followed by PL-SS processing is of great importance for environmental protection issues of SS utilization. The high content of organic components makes SS an attractive feedstock for the fuel and energy sector. Catalytic hydrotreatment of the model compounds of PL-SS (acids and phenols) is of particular interest to reduce the oxygen content in PL-SS. This process presents a key step to obtain a new generation of biofuels and eco-chemicals. Within the second direction, I carry out the development of catalysts for the efficient transformation of vegetable oil to clean fuels jointly with Heilongjiang University, China.
- What is your previous experience?
I had been working at the Laboratory of catalytic processing of renewables at Boreskov Institute of Catalysis from 2010 to 2020. I obtained my Master of Science in Chemistry (Catalysis and Adsorption) in 2012 at Novosibirsk State University (Novosibirsk, Russia). In 2016 I received a PhD degree with the thesis “Hydrodeoxygenation of model compounds of renewable fuels over catalysts based on Ni-containing alloys and carbides”. I actively took part in different Russian and international projects aimed at research and development of catalysts for hydrotreatment of pyrolysis liquid and its model compounds. The study of catalysts focuses on the understanding of the fundamental principles of the catalytic action on a wide range of organic oxygen compounds. The specific task in the framework of the scientific interests is the development of new types of catalysts modified by different additives to improve their activity and stability in pyrolysis liquid upgrading. I have experience in supervision of Russian and foreigner masters and PhD student.
- What is your experience with living in the Czech Republic?
My first visit to Prague was in 2019. And I was delighted with the beauty of the city and its unique atmosphere. Despite the fact that all public places are closed now, I am glad that I can enjoy the beauty of the city without a lot of tourists. One of the advantages of the city is that most of the people in Prague speak English or Russian, which helps me in socialization.
It has been one year since coronavirus has started and affected our life. Many things have changed in all parts of our being and the research area has been changed as well. We started to behave a little bit differently. On one hand, we are not able to move laboratory equipment and instruments home and our presence is still essential but most of other tasks could be accomplished in home office when we are connected together virtually. Yes, this is the word describing this time period – VIRTUALLY. The time we spend in front of a screen has enormously increased and the microphone and webcam are undoubtedly our new work essentials. But, what about our science community, the conferences, sharing of knowledge, meeting new people? Is it alive?
Yes, partially, I would say and we had to learn how to handle that. From the beginning of autumn last year, conference organizers have accepted the challenge and have started to make them VIRTUALLY. Ehm? Yes, true. We have taken a part in several conferences with our lectures already. So how is such a virtual conference going? Mostly, we have received a link and connect ourselves to a virtual room, nothing extraordinary. When you are a listener, the position is similar to real conference but one advantage appeared. You can refresh your mind whenever you want which helps you to be concentrated for longer time. However, what is completely different is a lecturer position. You sit in empty room with your microphone and for 20 min you are trying to do your best in front of static and deaf laptop believing that someone hears you. From my personal point of view, my nervousness from the audience is significantly lower, but I had to learn how to fight with the empty room feeling during the presentation. No eye to eye interaction. This could be even multiplied by possible technical errors. Yes, it also has happened to me. At the last conference, my audience could not see my shared, as indicated on my screen, presentation. But luckily during one minute, I set it correctly and my audience could see my slides. It frustrated me and I totally lost my focus on the topic. Luckily, after several slides, I was back on track. So, presenting is sometimes little inscrutably. However, the most limiting thing is absence of networking, making new personal contacts with conference participants, when we cannot discuss the presented topic in detail, establish new cooperation or get new knowledge. This is not possible to do virtually.
We wish you strong health and see you soon personally!
- How did you learn about our group? How did you get here?
The GreenCat Research Group led by Assoc. Prof. David at UCT Prague is very inspiring because it provides solutions for the world’s energy crisis and the conducted works that are very beneficial and related to my primary research interest as well. The catalysis research work carried out by the Group is highly interdisciplinary which focused preferentially in the area of catalysis for environmental and energy applications. This is one of the main aspects of my PhD research. I’ve been following David’s works for many years now, and his success in hydrodeoxygenation research makes the group internationally recognized as a center of excellence for catalysis research.
- What is your project at UCT about?
My research project is about designing a multifunctional catalyst for an effective volarization efficient of biomass-derived oxygenates to advanced biofuels and petrochemicals. Designing a trifunctional catalyst (metal-doped acid-base catalyst) for an effective one-pot transformation of biomass-derived platform chemicals (oxygenates such as furfural and acetone) to biofuels and petrochemical products. The one-pot catalytic transformation of renewable biomass to fuels and chemicals is one of the very attractive and crucial clean energy technologies that can reduce the issues associated with biomass disposal in various countries, as agricultural and forestry practices produce a large amount of biomass wastes derived from harvestable yield.
- What is your previous experience?
My previous experience has mainly been directed towards the development of hierarchical nanozeolites and renewable fuels from biomass, with experience in high-pressure batch reactor systems and extensive study of catalyst systems. I have acquired various advanced catalyst characterization techniques and credible skills in performing kinetics and mechanism of the catalytic reactions, particularly hydrodeoxygenation (HDO).
- What is your experience with living in the Czech Republic?
Prague is a beautiful city that I had always wanted to visit. I really love the city with a rich history and beautiful architecture. Besides, the people from the university are very helpful and friendly.
We are happy to announce four new Ph.D. thesis topics (see here) related to our ongoing research projects focusing on biomass valorization to value-added products with the help of heterogeneous catalysis and green chemistry principles. If you would like to know more about the topics or studying at the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, please contact us. The deadline to apply for the positions is 15. 4. 2021.
Globally accepted phenomenon that Cu is an active site in ester hydrogenolysis has been described for several times. However, some comprehensive research on the effect of different promoters on copper catalysts was missing. In our newly published article, we studied the promoter effect on properties of Cu active site and catalyst activity. A close correlation between acid-base sites and catalyst activity, performance and selectivity was described. The best choices for catalyst promotion were defined.
This autumn, members of GreenCats group changed their laboratory coats for the outdoor wear and went to the small town in Krkonoše mountains, Pec pod Sněžkou. We decided to organize our group meeting in this beautiful place, change the habitual environment and get new vision for our future research. We managed to have presentations from each member of GreenCats talking about the results from previous months and plans for the next academic year. And of course, we did not forget to enjoy hiking in mountains in our spare time. We recommend you to change your surroundings and you will get new creative ideas for your research, for sure!!
We would like to share with you our new article focusing on long-term hydrogenation of pyrolysis bio-oil over a series of sulphided NiMo catalysts recently published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering. This is one of the first articles dealing with long-term stability of the catalyst recently published in the research field. Distillation of a hydrotreated bio-oil into naphtha, gas oil, and atmospheric residue allowed obtaining further insights into oxygenates present and their distribution.
We would like to share with you our new article focusing on transesterification occurring during ester hydrogenolysis that has been recently published in Applied Catalysis A journal. The process of ester hydrogenolysis is commonly performed over copper catalysts and to increase catalyst performance a promoter should be used. But, next to its effect on catalyst stability, it may be responsible also for the undesired by-products formation. In the current article, the effect of ZnO on the side transesterification reaction and newly probed reaction scheme were described.
We are a group of undergraduate students from Malaysia, currently pursuing our Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Applied Chemistry at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Malaysia. As we are in our third year of our undergraduate studies, we are required to seek traineeship opportunities in related industries. This was the perfect opportunity as UTP signed an agreement with UCT. Thus, we decided to grab this once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience traineeship life abroad, in Prague, Czech Republic.
The seven-month traineeship at UCT was a very valuable and memorable experience indeed as we gained a lot of soft skills and practical skills that helped us in our studies and career. In the beginning, when we accepted my traineeship in this particular department, we were quite uncertain and lacked self-confidence that we would perform well in our works. However, under the proper guidance of our supervisor/advisors (Jara and Viola), we managed to excel in our performance, and it had exceeded our expectations.
Being in UCT has truly given us insight into the researching world and what it is all about. From this experience, we have learned that researching is quite intense as it is time-consuming and requires great patience. In order to achieve excellent results, a step-by-step process must be followed which requires energy and time. Throughout our traineeship here in UCT, we have witnessed multiple failures and errors. However, from these failures, we were able to improve day-by-day and eventually produce great outcomes. The dedication and effort that we have contributed eventually pay off when success is achieved. We feel satisfied with the overall outcome of our project as they have progressed well and developed exceptional results.
It took us a few weeks to get used to this new work environment at UCT especially when being in a foreign country. This experience definitely encouraged us to work out of our comfort zone and to be more outspoken with the help of our advisors. In the end, we managed to adapt well with not only our personal well-being but also in terms of our traineeship project at UCT. We have grown more comfortable with our work schedules and procedures that we are able to perform tasks independently with minimal supervision of our advisors.
As a whole, we believe that this internship was successful in furthering our knowledge in a career in the field of chemistry. Completing the scientific research internship was very rewarding. The experience we gained working in the lab will surely give us an advantage when doing our final year project in UTP. Besides, this opportunity helps us understand concepts on catalytic chemistry which requires broad knowledge and a lot of literature review. Sometimes it could be frustrating when we were not able to find an answer to the problems by reading through articles. We have learnt a lot about catalyst preparation, heterogeneous catalysis, and how different factors may affect the overall reaction.
Our advisors were tremendously helpful in making sure that we understood our projects well. Any uncertainties that we had regarding the work was guaranteed to be acknowledged by our advisors. We all know that practical work gives us a wholesome experience and it is the best way to prepare ourselves for our future careers. This traineeship gives us the opportunity to improve hands-on by applying the theoretical knowledge that we have learnt in UTP.
By Nur Amira Azmi and Chiew Mey Onn (Malaysia)
French ERASMUS student studied at UCT last year and worked with us for a semester. Her Project B was focused on ester hydrogenolysis, where she prepared several catalysts and tested them in dimethyl adipate hydrogenolysis.
Follow her full memories HERE
Some students from UCT cooperated with us on research topics and successfully defended their Theses. One of them, Petr, summarized his memories in the Flashback #3 and says: "Remember, in scientific research you compete with the whole world!"
Follow his full memories HERE
This May, the part of our group focusing on ester hydrogenolysis published a new article in Catalysis Science and Technology. It was previously described that use of CuZn catalysts is a promising alternative to toxic CuCr catalysts in ester hydrogenolysis. Now, we described in detail the effect of catalyst precursors on activity in dimethyl adipate hydrogenolysis. Using this study, it is possible to tune the structure of CuZn catalysts to achieve the highest catalytic activity in hydrogenolysis.
Enjoy reading and let us know your opinion!
The second part of our #Flashback section is dedicated to Matthew. The funniest guy in our lab.
"Making Ice Cream with liquid nitrogen in the lab and going round a local refinery with the team." Matthew, Scotland"
Read the whole article here- Matthew's FLASHBACK
Great news! Our research group under supervision of Oleg Kikhtyanin published a paper in Catalysis Today where they discuss in detail the effect of the furfural feedstock acidity on its aldol condensation with acetone when using the MgAl mixed oxides.
The interesting part of the research was not only the testing of the catalyst activity of the as-received furfural. The furfural conversion can be improved by distilling the as-received furfural prior to the aldol condensation experiments. Moreover, the storage of the freshly distilled furfural during a few days, even in a closed flask and at a dark place, resulted in a substantial decrease in furfural conversion in aldol condensation. The main message is that furfural properties have to be closely monitored to obtain reproducible catalytic results.
Enjoy reading and let us know your opinion!
We would like to bring you a new section #Flashback that describes the feeling and experience of our former students.
As Carlos said, "... it was a key point for my interview in my actual job." Follow his full Flashback.
The 9th Czech – Polish Catalytic Seminar was held in Ostrava on Friday February 7th, 2020. The CzePoCat was attended by over 70 participants from Polish and Czech universities, including three from our group. The seminar covered all the areas of catalysis with a focus on synthesis, catalysts characterization and the application of catalytic and photocatalytic processes in environmental protection and renewable energy production.
The largest European conference in the field of catalysis took place from 18 to 23 August 2019 in Aachen, Germany. More than 1500 participants from the most prestigious European universities or industry partners, including three from our department, shared their knowledge and experience in Aachen, Germany. The project for the development of copper catalysts was discussed with colleagues from universities in Japan, Germany, Russia, and France. This important event EuropaCat is held every two years and the next will be hosted by Prague in 2021 with Dr. Kubička as the main organizer.
Their posters are available here.
Our young researchers under supervision of David Kubička discussed their PhD topics with prof. Agustín Martínez from Valencia. He is working for a long time with catalysis and biomass conversion at Instituto de Tecnología Química. He also performed opened lecture „Fundamental aspects of the ethylene oligomerization reaction on Ni-zeolite catalysts“.
The three-day Summer School of Catalysis took place at the chateau Liblice in mid-May. Our PhD students listened to lectures presented by researchers from all over Europe, for example from ETH in Zurich, the University of Dresden or Leipzig. Lectures covered all areas of catalysis - homogeneous, heterogeneous, modern photocatalysis, and also computational chemistry. A pleasant innovation was a lecture on developing our presentation skills. Our PhD students - Jaroslav Aubrecht, Violetta Pospelova and Bogdan Shumeiko had the opportunity to present their results either as a poster or a short lecture. At the same time, Dr. David Kubička was one of the main organizers of the event and also had a lecture on the use of catalysts in industry
In past two years, many international students were working on their student projects with our research group as a part of their ERASMUS study. Some of them gained their first experience of working in the laboratory and basic knowledge of the subject, while others have extended their experience and gained new ones. However, each work involved practical tasks connected with the use of analytical methods or control of different types of reactors. All students actively participated in projects currently solving at the department. The universities they come from are located across Europe from Scotland (Matthew H.), France (Clara M.), Spain (Jon A. G., Salvador T.M.T) through Germany (Carlos M.) to Italy (Hadi D.) and Turkey (Aksu T.S.). The main projects involving the Erasmus students were: hydrogenolysis of the esters for which a new, more environmentally friendly, catalyst is needed, hydrogenation of biooil for the production of biofuels and hydrogenation of triglycerides for green diesel production.
Examples of projects:
Hydrogenation of biooil from biomass pyrolysis
Hydrogenolysis of dimethyl adipate over CuZnAl catalysts
Just like last year, our doctoral students Jaroslav Aubrecht, Violetta Pospelova and Bogdan Shumeiko from the group of Dr. David Kubička took part in the 2nd Catalytic seminar, that was held on 6 February at the Technical University of Ostrava. The seminar was also attended by a master student Petr Pozděna, who had a chance to present his results to a professional audience. The main aim of the seminar is to present and discuss its results with other colleagues in the field. Three of the four presentations were focused on a complex study of copper catalysts for the hydrogenolysis of esters, while the fourth one focused on the hydrogenation of oxygenate compounds from bio-oil. This year's novelty was the introduction of a teaching lecture, during which all participants expanded their knowledge in the field of an analytical technique of thermally programmed desorption.
In January 2019, we welcomed prof. Harry Bitter from the prestigious Dutch Wageningen University & Research Centre, here at the UCT. Prof. Bitter is a head of the Biobased Chemistry and Technology Department at Wageningen University. He gave a public lecture on Carbohydrate Based Conversions - from catalyst preparation to reactor choice, outlining a new use of biomass starch for practical purposes. In connection with the visit, the members of our department had the opportunity to present their research and discuss their results, plans, and problems with the prof. Bitter. The presentations were mainly focused on hydrodeoxygenation of triglycerides, hydrogenation of bio-oil, hydrogenolysis of esters and aldol condensation
The 1st Catalytic Seminar was held on Wednesday, February 7, at the Technical University of Ostrava. The seminar was attended by a number of researchers, doctoral and postdoctoral students from the UCT Prague, University of Pardubice, The Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals of CAS, J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry and Technical University of Ostrava. The successful representatives of the Department of Petroleum Technology and Alternative Fuels at the seminar were the PhD students: Jaroslav Aubrecht with a presentation on "Initial steps in the study of hydrogenation of dimethyl adipate on CuZnAl catalysts", Violetta Pospelova with a presentation on "Preparation of a series of CuZn catalysts and comparison of their activity in hydrogenolysis of esters" and Bogdan Shumeiko with a presentation on "Catalytic hydrogenation of bio-oil" supervised by Dr. David Kubička. The seminar also included an excursion to the laboratories of the Institute of Environmental Technologies at the Technical University of Ostrava. We hope this meeting will become an annual tradition. The seminar was financially supported by the Ostrava branch of the Czech Chemical Society