Below are multi-partner (>2) national and international cooperative projects, in which our team is participating or has participated.
PROMIS (Catalisti/SIM intercluster cSBO program, 2023-2025)
PROMIS stands for "sustainable PROduction of bio-based Multi-reactive ISocyanates". PROMIS will help the chemicals and materials industries in the production of more sustainable polyurethanes (PUs). Using inventive organic chemistry and catalysis, novel bio-based PU building blocks, called isocyanates, will be designed. As a result, current challenges in polyurethane industry will be addressed through closely interlinked valorisation goals.
LIBRA (FWO bioeconomy call, 2023-2024)
Prof. Bert Maes is a coordinator of the collaborative strategic basic research project LIBRA supported by FWO within the framework of a special Bioeconomy call and funded by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) of the European Union. Through collaboration of UAntwerp and KU Leuven new flame retardants based on lignin building blocks will be developed. This project is funded by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) of the European Union.
MUCOFORM (FWO bioeconomy call, 2022-2023)
Prof. Bert Maes is a coordinator of the collaborative project MUCOFORM. 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. This project is funded by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) of the European Union.
AC2GEN (Moonshot program, 2022-2025)
AC2GEN stands for "Acrylates from 2nd generation sugars: a powerful combination of fermentation, catalysis, and CO2 recycling". AC2GEN consortium which involves reserachers from KULeuven, UAntwerpen, BioBased Europe Pilot Plant and VITO will develop new ways to make acrylates from waste biomass via a combination of biotechnolgical and chemical processes, targeting unprecedented carbon efficiency.
Next-BIOREF (iBOF program, 2021-2024)
Utilization of biomass as a renewable feedstock to chemicals/materials is expected to become a key driver towards a future sustainable society. Biorefineries, converting non-edible lignocellulose, are central.Unraveling lignocellulose conversion to chemicals/materials is challenging; the chemical/physical phenomena are ill-understood, and formation of lignin-based products underexplored. Next-BIOREF(Next generation lignocellulose biorefinery: concepts and implementation) project strives to understand fractionation of lignocellulose into lignin oil and pulp,and their transformation into chemicals/materials. Lignin engineering is used to modify native lignin to facilitate such transformation.Cutting edge analytics enable thorough determination of the lignin structures, and novel techniques will be developed. The chemical/physical phenomena are investigated in detail delivering a comprehensive/predictive description of the refinery’s outcome. New chemistry from lignin to building blocks for future polymers/composite materials, is proposed.
The contribution of the Maes group will be the development of synthetic methodologies, both catalytic (with focus on homogeneous catalysis)and non-catalytic providing monomers for polymerization. Model compounds will be synthesized for mechanistic understanding. Analysis of the greenness of the developed synthetic methodologies will also receive major attention.
iBOF call of Flemish universities through the Flemish Inter-university Council (Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad, VLIR) aims to stimulate inter-university collaboration with a focus on excellence in ground-breaking frontier research in Flanders.
PADDL (Moonshot program, 2020-2021)
To improve the characteristics of plastics, additives (such as plasticizers, antioxidants, UV stabilizers and flame retardants) are often added. The PADDL (Polymer Additives from Lignin Building Blocks) project seeks to design new biobased additives for plastics and aims to enable the shift towards renewable raw materials. Moonshot is a research and innovation program of the Flemish government aimed to enabling Flanders’ transition to the circular, low-carbon chemical industry.
RespiriTB and RespiriNTM (Innovative Medicines Initiative, 2019-2025)
Launched in May 2019, the RespiriTB and RespiriNTM projects will explore multiple approaches to treat tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infections: determine new targets for anti-mycobacterial compounds, define and optimize novel inhibitors and move these through the process of hit-to-lead compound up until the First-in-Human trials. The role of ORSY group is study of degradation pathways of selected drug candidates, as well as development of new synthetic pathways for drug candidates.
RespiriTB and RespiriNTM are supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and Janssen Pharmaceutica – a member of European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). IMI is the world's biggest public-private partnership in the life sciences that facilitate collaboration between the European Commission and industry partners.
BioFact (EOS Excellence of Science program, 2018-2021)
ORSY participates in the project “Bio based factory: Sustainable chemistry from wood”, one of the 38 projects supported by the highly competitive and prestigious Excellence of Science program of the Science Foundations FWO and FNRS in Belgium. The program aims to promote top level collaborative fundamental research between the Flemish and French-speaking communities of Belgium. Together with researchers form the Universities of Leuven, Ghent, Brussels, Liège as well as the German Leibniz Institute for Catalysis (LIKAT), researchers from Antwerp will develop new ways to obtain (new) chemicals from wood biomass as a feedstock. Emphasis in the synthetic method development is on sustainable chemistry.
CHAOS: C-H Activation in Organic Synthesis (COST Action, 2016-2020)
The main aim of this Action is to render C-H activation a truly versatile, practical and general tool for organic chemistry, applicable in both industry and academia.
In principal, organic chemists have the tools in hand to prepare any thermodynamically stable molecule by one way or the other. However, even though great achievements have been made in the past century, most of the bond forming reactions rely on preactivated substrates. Additionally, in complex synthesis, protecting group techniques are often required either to block alternative sites of reactivity, or to protect functional groups labile under reaction conditions required for a specific step of a sequence. The paradigm in organic synthesis has shifted from “getting the job done (the molecule synthesized)” towards getting the job done in the most efficient way possible. The method of metal catalysed C-H activation of organic small molecules has great potential in this regard. At the moment, the field includes many examples of transformations which can be carried out only on specific types of substrates and only few contributions deal with the application of C-H activation in the synthesis of complex molecules such as natural products. Additionally, applications of C-H activation in industrial processes are scarce. Hence, broad applicability, similar to the well establish cross-coupling reactions, has to be established. The time is ripe now to make a big European collaborative effort in the area of C-H activation.
BioHart (EU INTERREG program, 2016-2019)
In Dutch, the acronym BIO-HArT stands for 'Biorizon Innovation and Upscaling of Renewable Aromatics Technology'. Biorizon is a Shared Research Center with an initial focus on technology development for the production of functionalized biobased aromatics for performance materials, chemicals & coatings. Over the past years Biorizon has developed three commercially promising technologies for the conversion of wood, sugars and lignin into aromatics. By demonstrating the technology within this project on a larger scale, the confidence in the applicability of the technology on an industrial scale enhances and the risk to invest diminishes. Simultaneously bio-aromatics will be produced in sufficient quantities to be able to start application development routes.
Eighteen months after the project launch, the University of Antwerp has booked remarkable progress. Chemists of the Organic Synthesis division have developed new, convenient, scalable and green methods for the transformation of lignin oil monomers to valuable industrial chemicals such as catechol and pyrogallol. The developed methods use neither expensive catalysts, nor toxic solvents. A European patent application has been filed.
This project is established by a contribution of the European Interreg V Flanders-The Netherlands program that stimulates innovation, sustainable energy, a healthy environment and the labor market by means of cross-border projects. On a total budget of € 6.085.445,38 Interreg contributes € 3.042.722,69 (50 %) and besides that the provinces of North-Brabant, Antwerp, East-Flanders and Flemish-Brabant offered additional funding. Thereby they make an important contribution to the further development of the Flemish-Dutch border region as a top location for the transition to a more sustainable, biobased economy and an efficient use of natural resources.
ARBOREF: Aromatic biorefinery (Catalisti project, 2015-2019)
While the conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose to fuels and chemicals has already been extensively studied, the conversion technology for lignine valorsization is developed significantly less. Central to the project is a recently developed COK technology, which converts wood into mono-phenols (from lignin), and cellulose pulp. What are the most interesting synthetic routes from the lignin fraction, which allow both synthesis of existing chemicals such as phenol, but also new chemicals for polymer and fine chemical applications? This is the challenge ORSY is tackling together with COK within the ARBOREF project.
CHEM21: Chemical manufacturing methods for the 21st century pharmaceutical industries (IMI - Innovative Medicines Initiative project, 2012-2017)
CHEM21 is a project that will develop a broad based portfolio of sustainable technologies for green chemical intermediate manufacture aimed at the pharmaceutical industry. It is the largest public private project funded in Europe in the field of sustainable chemistry. ORSY is involved in the Work Package concerned with the development of sustainable chemical catalysts and processes. The focus is on the use of abundant and low toxicity first row transition metal catalysts such as iron, nickel and copper and their use in transformations that have been selected by pharma companies as being of most value in improving drug manufacture. These include aromatic C-H activation to make C-O, C-C and C-N bonds.
FunMem4Affinity: Exploration of functional ceramic membranes for affinity organic solvent nanofiltration (IWT project, 2012-2015).
The projecthas developed a toolbox of innovative functionalized ceramic membranes (FunMem) with pores in the range of 1 nm. The synthesis of the membranes is done using a new proprietary grafting method based on organometallic chemistry leading to a direct covalent bonding of the organic functional group to the metal of metaloxide membranes. ORSY was involved in the use of these membranes for catalyst separation and recovery.