Catalysis is, perhaps, the single most important and pervasive interdisciplinary technology in the chemical industry, and certainly one of the areas with the largest societal impact
European platform for sustainable chemistry, SUSCHEM.org

Some important specific challenges and opportunities for modern catalysis include:

  • Expanding catalysis concepts, such as catalysis with electrons, photons and energy sources other than thermal energy.
  • Understanding catalysts from molecular to material scale, and transition from deductive to predictive catalysis through theory and modelling.
  • Addressing the evolving development scenarios based on renewable feedstock, biomass or CO2, as complements to efficient use of fossil feedstock.
  • Improving the economics of catalytic methods through usage of abundant, cheap and less toxic catalytic metals and organocatalysts, direct catalytic methods such as C-H bond functionalization, and generally a transition from stoichiometric to catalytic methods.

Fully in line with this priority setting, the CASCH consortium focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to develop and understand catalysis for challenging transformations. CASCH research aimes to develop more sustainable organic chemistry from prevalent but unreactive functional groups. As resources of organic molecules both petrochemical and biobased building blocks will be considered. After all, use of biorenewables is only one facet of sustainability and not (yet) a priority for certain sectors, such as pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. In particular, our consortium focuses on methods for the selective cleavage and functionalization of strong chemical bonds (C-H, CN, C-O and C-C) omnipresent in organic molecules and CO2. The types of catalysis comprise not only heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis, but also recent emerging techniques such as photocatalysis and electrocatalysis. Combination with (in-situ) characterization methods and computational techniques provides a solid basis for unravelling of reactions mechanisms and enabling rational development of catalytic methods.