News

New Marie Sklodowska-Curie postdoc
March 2022

The first successful applicant of the CASCH consortium for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships (MSCA PF) under the new Horizone Europe program is Dr. Xingfeng Bai. He will start his research on sustainable catalytic hydrodeoxygenation of bioaromatics in the team of Prof. Bert Maes (ORSY) in collaboration with Prof. Vera Meynen (LADCA). We wish him good luck for this exciting project! 

FWO bioeconomy call project
December 2021

Prof. Bert Maes will coordinate the collaborative project MUCOFORM supported within the frame of a special FWO Bioeconomy call and funded by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) of the European Union. In collaboration with Bio Base Europe and KU Leuven non-food sugars from waste biomass such as recycled cardboard, corn stover or brewery waste streams will be transformed into platform molecules, which can serve to produce chemical building blocks for polymers such as PET and for many other (new) applications.

Excellence of Science (EoS) project for Vera Meynen
December 2021

The EOS programme wants to promote joint research between researchers in the Flemish and French-speaking community by funding joint fundamental research projects with a duration of four years. This is a highly competitive programme with only one call per 4 years. From 280 proposals submitted in the 2021 call only 37 projects were funded across all scientific disciplines. Among those is the project PHOSPHORE where Prof. Vera Meynen is involved as a PI from UAntwerpen. Together with colleagues from Hasselt, Leuven, Namur, Louvain-la-Neuve and Brussels she will develop new porous metal phosphonate catalysts for biorefinery applications. 

New MOONSHOT projects for CASCH
December 2021

Results of the 2021 Moonshot call have been announced. CASCH professors are involved in two granted projects! Prof. Bert Maes is a partner in the project AC2GEN which will develop new ways to make acrylates from waste biomass via a combination of biotechnolgical and chemical processes. Prof. Tom Breugelmans will be a partner in the project CLUE dealing with the conversion of CO2 to ethylene by electrochemical methods. Moonshot is a research and innovation program of the Flemish government aimed to enabling Flanders’ transition to the circular, low-carbon chemical industry. 

Vera Meynen is in the team of the new spin-off company
December 2021

A-membranes (www.a-membranes.com) is a spin-off of the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) and the University of Antwerp. This is a result of more than a decade of joint research and development in the field of membrane filtration. A-membranes allows unique tailor-made solutions for challenging separations and purifications, which existing membranes cannot offer. As all membrane technologies, it is a sustainable technology, with reduced energy costs and enables a smaller environmental footprint. Prof. Vera Meynen of the LADCA group is a leading UAntwerp expert on material synthesis involved in the spin-off team. Congratulations and best wishes for a bright and prosperous future of  the A-membranes company! 

New FWO fellowships for CASCH
October 2021

The Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) has announced the results of the annual call for PhD fellowships. Three PhD students obtained strategic basic research fellowship grants to continue their career in the CASCH consortium. Marjo Waeterschoot will join the Bert Maes team while Alana Rossen and Renée De Wolf will join the Tom Breugelmans team. Congratulations to these young researchers!

CASCH on the radio
October 2021

Prof. Bert Maes explains in the program "Nieuwe Feiten" on Radio1 about the just awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry for asymmetric organocatalysis research. We all extend our congratulations to Prof. Benjamin List and Prof. David MacMillan on this outstanding achievement. Click the link below to re-listen: https://radio1.be/luister/select/nieuwe-feiten/nobelprijs-voor-scheikunde-voor-list-en-mcmillan

 

CASCH research on catalysis highlighted
September 2021

Antwerps Persbureau reports about the research of the team of Prof. Maes of the Organic Synthesis Division. The developed catalytic tandem methodology making use of Cu and Pd provides easy access to new complex molecules, important for pharmaceutical industry. This research shows how new synthetic methodology makes accessible new parts of chemical space and was highlighted on the cover picture of the top journal Angewandte Chemie: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/anie.202109132

 

Two Moonshot follow-up projects approved
July 2021

Catalisti and VLAIO announced yesterday the approval of two follow-up MOONSHOT projects, to continue research intiated in the 2020 MOONSHOT call. Moonshot is a research and innovation program of the Flemish government aimed to enabling Flanders’ transition to the circular, low-carbon chemical industry. CASCH members are involved in both projects! 

Tom Breugelmans is a partner in the CAPTIN project which seeks to overcome technological limitations in CCU technologies by intensifying CO2 capture processes. CAPTIN identified a series of challenges that require further investigation. In the follow-up project CAPTIN-2, these challenges will be tackled using experimental test devices and models developed in the initial project.

Pegie Cool is a partner in the ARCLATH project which aims to develop a radically new hydrogen transportation and storage concept based on clathrates. Currently, ARCLATH has already provided a proof of concept showing that hydrogen can indeed be encapsulated in clathrates under technically and economically relevant conditions, in terms of both pressure and temperature.A follow-up project ARCLATH-2 will now maximise the hydrogen storage capacity of these clathrates.

Two EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships successfully accomplished
April 2021

Two Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) postdoctoral fellowship projects funded by EU Horizon 2020 program have been  successfully accomplished within the CASCH consortium. Dr. Surjyakanta Rana under supervision of Prof. Vera Meynen has worked on the impact of shaping and synthesis of catalytic materials for unique plasma catalysis applications. Dr. Sovan Biswas under the supervision of Prof. Maes has developed new methods for the C-H functionalization towards the synthesis of bicyclic nitrogen scaffolds, valuable for medicinal chemistry applications. We wish to both MSCA fellows good luck in their further career.

Top publication of CASCH consortium
April 2021

Together with colleagues from KULeuven (Prof. Bert Sels) and LIKAT (Prof. Matthias Beller), Prof. Bert Maes has published a review “Homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts for hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol under mild conditions” in the highly reputable journal Chemical Society Reviews. This publication was selected for the front cover picture of the journal.

Graphical abstract: Front cover

University of Antwerp and Solvay join forces for green chemistry technologies
February 2021

The University of Antwerp and Solvay have signed an exclusive license agreement to access a new patented organic synthesis technology developed by the research team headed by Professor Bert Maes, Collen Francqui Research Professor in the ORSY division of the Department of Chemistry. This technology will enlarge the capabilities that Solvay can offer to its customers to develop new environmentally friendly solutions for its markets.

 The recognition of the invention by a leader in its industry reinforces the visibility of the scientific excellence of the University of Antwerp in the field of catalysis for sustainable organic chemistry, one of the Centers of Excellence at the university named CASCH. A part of the basic strategic research leading to this new technology was funded by the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Vlaams Agentschap voor Innovatie en Ondernemen - VLAIO) under the umbrella of Catalisti, the spearhead cluster for the Flemish chemical and plastics industry, as well as the EU Cooperation Program Interreg Flanders-The Netherlands.
 
The ORSY division develops new sustainable synthetic methodologies towards fine and speciality chemicals using catalysis. Feedstock includes renewables such as chemicals obtained from non-edible biomass refineries. A major research topic is the development of new synthetic methods aiming direct functionalization of challenging unreactive bonds omnipresent in the renewables. Special attention is given to the assessment of greenness of newly developed methodologies using Green Metrics. The division has a longstanding tradition of industrial collaborations and is a partner in the sustainable chemistry valorization consortium InSusChem.
 

Focus on sustainable chemistry and materials
The current license deal with Solvay is a new example of the high potential of the University of Antwerp in the key valorisation domain of sustainable chemistry and materials. The University of Antwerp will strengthen this valorisation domain by opening Blue-App at the Blue Gate Antwerp site. Blue-app is an open innovation hub where the various actors of the relevant innovation ecosystem can physically meet to work together on innovation projects as well as follow training programmes. This will lead to more industrial collaboration and societal and economical impact within the region. 


 About Solvay 
Solvay is a science company whose technologies bring benefits to many aspects of daily life. With more than 24,100 employees in 64 countries, Solvay bonds people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress. The Group seeks to create sustainable shared value for all, notably through its Solvay One Planet plan crafted around three pillars: protecting the climate, preserving resources and fostering  better life. The Group’s innovative solutions contribute to safer, cleaner, and more sustainable products found in homes, food and consumer goods, planes, cars, batteries, smart devices, health care applications, water and air purification systems. Founded in 1863, Solvay today ranks among the world’s top three companies for the vast majority of its activities and delivered net sales of €10.2 billion in 2019. Solvay is listed on Euronext Brussels (SOLB) and Paris and in the United States, where its shares (SOLVY) are traded through a Level I ADR program. Learn more at www.solvay.com.

Bert Maes has been appointed as Advisory Board member of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
January 2021

Bert Maes has been appointed as Advisory Board member of the Q1 journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering published by the American Chemical Society. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering invites Letters, Articles, Features, and Perspectives (Reviews) that address challenges of sustainability in the chemical enterprise and advance principles of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering.

First iBOF project for CASCH
December 2020

Excellent news to close an unusual, in many ways, year 2020: Bert Maes will be a part of the project NextBIOREF - New Generation of Lignocellulose Biorefineries bringing together scientists of Leuven, Gent and Antwerp. This is one of only 15 projects granted out of 136 applications in the first ever iBOF call of Flemish universities through the Flemish Interuniversity Council (Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad, VLIR) aimed to stimulate inter-university collaboration with a focus on excellence in ground-breaking frontier research in Flanders. The evaluation process was in hands of  the European Science Foundation (ESF).

New FWO projects for CASCH
December 2020

FWO is a major sponsor of fundamental research in Flanders. This year 285 research projects out of 1331 were funded. Amongst these two proposals submitted by the CASCH consortium members were approved. Tom Breugelmans will, together with Dirk De Vos from KULeuven, work on the new electrocatalytic transformations. Bert Maes will join forces with Romano Orru (University of Maastricht, the Netherlands) in a project aiming to develop the synthesis of new heterocylic scaffolds via metal-catalyzed tandem reactions. 

New MOONSHOT projects for CASCH
December 2020

Tom Breugelmans will coordinate, and Pegie Cool and Vera Meynen will be involved as partners  in the SBO project SYN-CAT: Synergetic Design of Catalytic Materials for Integrated Photo- and Electrochemical CO2 Conversion. The funding will help CASCH researchers to develop a combination technology on the basis of direct sunlight and renewable energy to selectively convert CO2 into methanol. On top of this, Tom Breugelmans is also a partner in the sprintSBO project RASCON: Reactive Amine Scrubbing for CO2 Conversion. Moonshot is a research and innovation program of the Flemish government aimed to enabling Flanders’ transition to the circular, low-carbon chemical industry. 

New FWO PhD fellowships for CASCH consortium
October 2020

The Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) has announced the results of the annual call for PhD fellowships fundamental research and strategic basic research. CASCH will welcome a number of young scientists to start their PhD projects on various aspects of sustainable chemistry. Dries De Vos (fundamental research fellowship) and Céderic Ver Elst (strategic basic research fellowship) join the Bert Maes team. Michiel De Rop, Saskia Hoekx (joint PhD with Sara Bals, EMAT team, UAntwerpen) and Andreas Laemont (double PhD degree with Pascal Van Der Voort, Ghent University) will join the Tom Breugelmans team on their strategic basic research fellowship grants. Congratulations!

Four CASCH professors join valorization platform InSusChem
October 2020

Vera Meynen will be a promotor, and Tom Breugelmans, Pegie Cool and Bert Maes are among members of the recently approved technology consortium InSusChem (Integrated Sustainable Chemistry Antwerp). The technology consortia are financed by the Industrial Research Fund (IOF). This is an internal fund that is sponsored by the government every year.  These financial resources are used to support valorization of basic research through industrial collaborations, IP protection and spin-off creation. 

CASCH welcomes new senior FWO postdoctoral fellow
September 2020

Jonas Hereijgers will continue his research in Tom Breugelmans team as Senior FWO Postdoctoral fellow as of October 1, 2020. He is one of only eleven laureates for these prestigious grants from the University of Antwerpen in the most recent call. Congratulations!

CASCH research on biobased chemicals highlighted
April 2020

Gazet van Antwerpen reported in the January 3, 2020 issue about the process for making anilines from lignin, developed by the Organic Synthesis group (Prof. Bert Maes). This methodology is unique as for the first time, a nitrogen functionality can be introduced in a lignin-based aromatic molecule. This research was recently published in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

Read more

C2W, magazine of the Dutch Royal Chemical Society, reported on the new process for making catechol, a valuable building block for chemical industry, from ferulic acid, a biobased raw material isolated from agricultural waste.  A very simple, one step procedure, developed by the Organic Synthesis group (Prof. Bert Maes), is the first process for biobased catechol. This research was published in Angewandte Chemie journal.

Read more

Funding for new EPR instrumentation for CASCH
March 2020

Sabine Van Doorslaer as a PI, and with support by other CASCH members has obtained a special FWO Infrastructure grant. This will allow important upgrade of the EPR (Electronic paramagnetic Resonance) instrumentation, important for fundamental understanding of various catalytic phenomena. 

CASCH researchers involved in several MOONSHOT projects
January 2020

Moonshot is a research and innovation program of the Flemish government aimed to enabling Flanders’ transition to the circular, low-carbon chemical industry. CASCH PIs participate in four of the nine projects, approved in the first call of "sprint cSBO projects" (short term Cluster Strategic Basic Research projects with planned duration of 18 months):

  • PADDL: Polymer additives from lignin building blocks (Bert Maes – coordinator, Tom Breugelmans and Sabine Van Doorslaer – partners)
  • D2M: Dioxide to monoxide: Innovative catalysis for CO2 to CO conversion (Tom Breugelmans and Vera Meynen – partners)
  • ARCLATH: Artificial clathrates for safe storage, transport and delivery of hydrogen (Pegie Cool – partner)
  • CAPTIN: Intensification of CO2 capture processes (Tom Breugelmans– partner)

CASCH professor discusses about safety in the chemical industry
January 2020

Prof. Vera Meynen (Laboratory of Adsorption and Catalysis), explains, together with Bert Boogaerts (Essencia, federation of Belgian chemical and life sciences sector) about very high safety standards in the Flemish chemical industry in the account published in Fokus magazine.