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Aleš Stýskalík joins our group as a Marie Curie post-doctoral researcher to study new catalyst preparation routes

January 15, 2018

A few months ago, our group was reinforced with the arrival of Dr. Aleš Stýskalík. Aleš comes from Brno (Masaryk University) in Czech Republic and has also made a post-doctoral stay in the US, in the group of Craig E. Barnes (University of Tennessee).

Aleš is hired on a Marie Curie projects called NewCat4Bio. The purpose of the project is to develop new catalyst formulations dedicated to the dehydration of bio-based alcohols. We will start with ethanol to obtain ethene. For this reaction, we need acidic catalysts, like for example aluminosilicate (or other metallosilicates). We identify three main challenges:

(1) the catalyst must be a true mixed oxide with an excellent dispersion of the transition metal into the silica matrix, which generate abundant active sites,

(2) the catalyst must develop appropriate textural properties, in particuar large specific surface area and relatively large pore diameters so that its activity is not hampered by diffusional limitations,

(3) the catalyst must be stable under hydrothermal conditions (bio-based alcohols are often available in mixture with water and in any case, their dehydration releases water).

To tackle these challenges all at once, we put forward that non-hydrolytic sol-gel chemistry will offer tremendous opportunities. In a next post, we will disclose how we actually intend to proceed.

I am happy to host Aleš in the team because he is a true expert in sol-gel chemistry, and especially in non-hydrolytic sol-gel. He has recently published a comprehensive review on the topic, which I heartily recommend to read. Our common work will hopefully allow us to continue writing the story of non-hydrolytic sol-gel routes for the preparation of heterogeneous catalysts!


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