Catalytic conversions of biomass or vegetable materials are important to develop alternatives to crude oil derivatives. The current projects focus on Vernonia oil and Furfural.
Vernonia galamensis is a native plant original from the low land areas of Ethiopia whose seeds contain a significant concentration (approx 40%) of naturally epoxidised triglyceride oils.
This type of moiety is particularly useful in cross-linking agents and synthetic building blocks offering great potential for numerous industrial applications.
Furfural is one of the main components of sawdust, a residue from wood factories, and its conversion into fine chemicals is being investigated with positive results by more conventional but less environmentally benign synthetic routes.
5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and its derivatives are obtained from different sources of carbohydrates, such as hexoses, fructose, sucrose, oligo- and polysaccharides, as well as converted industrial wastes from textiles, cellulose or wood.
Derivatives of HMF have already been utilised in agro-chemistry as fungicides, in galvano-chemistry as corrosion inhibitors and in cosmetic industry and as flavour agents.
The ultimate research goal of this project is to combine zeolite technology and photochemistry and develop strategies for the production of composites, fine chemicals and biofuels from industrial by-products and renewable resources.