Dr. Jesús Esteban Serrano, PostDoc in the Multiphase Catalysis Group (PD. Dr. A. Vorholt), was awarded the Hermann Neuhaus Prize for his research work on furans as a source of biofuels and chemicals from renewable feedstock.
The Hermann Neuhaus Prize was launched in 2018 and is endowed with € 25,000. It recognizes excellent postdocs and research group leaders who are conducting research with the potential for application at a Max Planck Institute. It is awarded by the Max Planck Society (MPS) and funded by the Max Planck Foundation (MPF) in memory of the entrepreneur Hermann Neuhaus.
About the project:
As a way to contribute to the production of chemicals derived from renewable feedstock in a global context of depleting resources, Dr. Esteban Serrano and colleagues propose the production of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural - two valuable chemicals for the production of fuels and other products. The approach the researchers follow consists in carrying out these reactions using two immiscible solvents simultaneously. In this way, while the chemical reaction takes place in one of them, the other solvent separates the products so we can increase the productivity. Recently, they have proposed a number of green solvents that show good separation performance with the aid of computational predictions (J. Esteban, A.J. Vorholt and W. Leitner. (2020) Green Chem., 22: 2097-2128).
“Now we want to develop advanced reactor concepts that will allow us to complete this process efficiently by intensifying the contact of the two immiscible solvents, thus accelerating both the chemical reaction and the extraction of the products,” explains Dr. Esteban Serrano.
The Hermann Neuhaus prize committee has decided to support the project by providing additional funds for the implementation of an experimental setup based on such novel reactor designs, such as static mixer reactors, which could potentially be applied to other chemical reactions involving multiphase systems.
The official award ceremony was postponed to 2021.