Plastics are an essential part of modern society. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of these materials is recycled (9%) the rest is incinerated (12%) and released to the environment (79%). While conventional recycling can be increased, the inferior properties of the recycled materials, relative to virgin plastics, hinders economic profitability. In this project we will tackle this issue by developing new materials and processes that can chemically "upcycle" plastics into added value products in foams stabilized by catalysts.
In this project funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) as part of the Talent Scheme VIDI, you will apply surface chemical functionalization to solid heterogeneous catalysts to generate amphiphobic catalysts that can stabilize gas-liquid interfaces. These solids should act as foam stabilizers to produce high-surface area gas-liquid-solid contacting reactors. We expect the candidate to achieve excellent control over the functionalization of the solid catalysts and develop a library of materials that can stabilize air-oil and hydrogen-oil foams. Detailed characterization of the chemistry of these materials and the properties of the resulting foams in terms of foamability, bubble size, and stability as well as their catalytic performance will be used to generate chemistry-structure-activity relationships. We expect the candidate to have an entrepreneurial and science-based spirit, so that we can bring the benefits of this technology quickly to the end-users collaborating in the project in the form of licenses and/or a start-up.
The work will be carried out in the University of Twente (The Netherlands) in the Multiphasic Catalysis and Reactions (MCR) group of Dr. ir. J.A. Faria within the Catalytic Process and Materials department in the Faculty of Science and Technology.