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NOVel cheap and Abundant Materials for catalytic biomass conversion (NOVACAM)
Start date: Sep 1, 2013, End date: Feb 28, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

NOVACAM addresses the development of novel technology to enable the substitution of critical metals in industrial catalysts (call objective). The project will aim to develop catalysts using non-critical elements for the conversion of biomass to chemicals and fuels. Catalysts are one of the six major uses of critical metals that are produced as byproducts of mining of primary metals, e.g. platinum group metals and lanthanides. Many industrial heterogeneous catalysts have been developed empirically, such that the role of these critical metals in affecting catalyst performance is not clearly understood. NOVACAM will develop innovative catalysts by applying a “catalysis by design” approach, integrating the complete chain of knowledge from fundamental research to proof of concept. The prototype catalysts will be benchmarked against current catalyst technology. Industrial use of biomass is at an early stage and presents an opportunity to develop the next generation of cheap and abundant catalysts. The main objectives of the project are (i) to understand by a “catalysis by design” approach the requirements for inorganic catalyst systems to speed up elementary reaction steps and valorise biomass with a focus on conversion of cellulose into fuels and chemicals; (ii) using these nanoscale insights to develop novel catalysts based on abundant elements for the conversion of biomass and (iii) to develop three proof of concept studies at laboratory scale to convert cellulose/sugar feedstocks into fuels and chemicals - specific attention will be paid to catalyst robustness. In this way, the extensive knowledge base acquired in catalysis research will be employed to design novel inorganic catalytic systems. The project will be carried out with a partner consortium in Japan with complementary expertises in the field of innovative catalyst research. An industrial advisory committee will be integrated into the project in order to maximise exploitability of the project results.
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