Laboratory of Organic Synthesis

José Miguel Hidalgo Herrador
José Miguel Hidalgo Herrador
Head of Laboratory

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Up to date the production of valuable products in chemical industry is almost entirely based on the processing of mineral raw materials: oil, gas and coal. In the view of unpredicted prices and the finite reserves of these fossil resources as well as the connected adverse environmental impacts of the use of these non-renewable resources the synthesis of chemicals with high added value from biomass by heterogeneously catalyzed reactions is a recent topic of great importance. The primary transformation of complex molecules of biomass can proceed by different routes resulting in a formation of relatively simple molecules with low molecular weight (generally 3-5 carbon atoms in a molecule). That is why these compounds cannot be directly used as valuable chemicals or fuel additives. However, the small molecules produced from biomass processing may be again assembled together to form larger compounds with desired properties. In this respect, different types of organic reactions are considered a useful tool to increase a length of carbon chain and to produce heavier reaction products from comparatively light initial reagents.

The laboratory of organic synthesis deals with a research to determine a correlation between physico-chemical properties of catalysts and their behavior in organic reactions. For these experiments, different solids possessing either acidic or basic properties are used as objects for the investigation (zeolites and other micro-mesoporous materials, oxides, MOFs, hydrotalcites and mixed oxides, etc.). The evaluation of their behavior is carried out in a number of organic reactions, including aldehyde/ketone condensation, esterification, etherification, alkylation, etc. The compounds obtained from biomass usually contain significant amounts of oxygen, so much attention is paid to studying hydrodeoxygenation processes, either as a separate reaction step (the hydrotreatment of obtained products), or combined with the main reaction route (hydroalkylation). Additionally, the most promising processes can be also evaluated from technological point of view as a transfer from a batch laboratory stirred reactor to a flow experimental unit with a fixed catalyst bed.