Pieter Bruijnincx

Utrecht University
"Towards Molecular Redesign: A Perspective on Biobased, Circular and Safe Chemicals and Materials"

“Towards Molecular Redesign: A Perspective on Biobased, Circular and Safe Chemicals and Materials”

Sustainable chemistry requires us to reconsider the production and use of our current slate of chemicals and materials. To avoid unsustainable resource depletion, to limit climate change contributions and not to burden the environment with persistent and/or toxic novel entities, we need to switch feedstock, use benign production processes, adopt circularity and reconsider our product design from the molecular level up to transition to a product slate that is truly sustainable and safe by design. All this, we need to accomplish with the constraint that renewable energy for the time being will not be abundantly available. In this contribution, I will provide a perspective on this transition and its systemic and technical challenges, highlighting some examples from our current research on biomass-to-chemicals and biomass-to-materials.


Pieter Bruijnincx is Full Professor Sustainable Chemistry & Catalysis at Utrecht University. His research focuses on the new catalysts and conversion routes for the sustainable production of new and ‘drop-in’ chemicals, materials and fuels, e.g. by valorization of lignocellulosic biomass and biomass-derived platform molecules, CO2 and waste feedstock. Recent examples of research topics include the catalytic depolymerization of lignin and humins and further catalytic upgrading of lignin-derived aromatics, the conversion of ethanol to butadiene, a novel route for furanics-based aromatics production, fatty acid isomerization, and catalyst development for levulinic acid hydrogenation.