This CoI catalysis workshop, organized by VIRAN and NIOK, took place on November 7 on the campus of TUe. With about 40 participants and a high attendance from industry the setting was very productive to make next steps to establish and shape the CoI. Like engagement sessions in 2021 and 2022, community building was a central aspect, however this time with a significantly higher technical content.


The workshop agenda contained the following topics:

  • Industrial sessions – Four VIRAN members (Avantium, ExxonMobil, Nobian, Sabic) outlined in ca 20 minutes presentations each, their strategic approach of how catalysis/catalysts are positioned and utilized to contribute to the energy transition, circularity and carbon food-print reduction. The presentations gave the audience insight into how the industrial community tackles these problems and did serve as an appetizer for potential academic-industrial cooperations. Short summaries of these presentations are listed below as Annex 1. The dialogue will be continued in our next full-days CoI workshop with presentations from other VIRAN members.
  • Subsidy opportunities – Peter Berben (ChemistryNL, TKI groene chemie en circulariteit) gave a presentation about the Dutch government’s funding policy, which triggered a discussion of how the catalysis CoI can help in obtaining funding for targeted research. In the National Technology Strategy, eight areas are defined as key technologies; two of them could be of interest for the Catalysis Community:
    • Advanced Materials – subtopic Energy Materials
    • Chemical Technologies – subtopic Catalysis
  • National Catalysis Roadmap – An outcome of the October 2022 CoI workshop was a commitment of ca 30 “young NIOK” members to review the current national catalysis roadmap, assess if it is still fit for purpose and formulate a recommendation of how to proceed. The CoI catalysis roadmap agenda item started with a summary of above activity, during which a set of key questions were raised for discussion in three individual groups. In short, it was agreed that the current roadmap is outdated. It was discussed controversy if a revision by adding new areas of research will be sufficient, or if a new roadmap is needed. Both parties had good arguments, however the discussion converged towards a revision and amendment of the existing roadmap. A list of topics (see Annex 2 below) was defined; this list will be reviewed against the roadmap to start the refresh.
  • Path forward
    • Requiring feedback from the community to finalize the list of topics and to define a good starting point for the roadmap refresh. A questionnaire will be sent.
    • A core team is formed to work on the roadmap. This team consists of two VIRAN and two NIOK board members, one young NIOK member and one individual contributor. Team members are identified; the first connect will be in early January. Progress of work will be monitored by connecting with the broader community on a regular basis.
    • To uplift the CoI profile and increase the potential impact it can have in fund raising, or representing the Dutch catalysis community, a vision and mission statement is needed. This will be drafted by a working group of two VIRAN and two NIOK board members.
    • The number of CoI connects will be increased in 2024. We aim at two f2f events, as well as two virtual connects. A f2f CoI event is planned to take place during the N3C conference in Noordwijkerhout in March 2024. Focus of this event will be an update of activities, short presentations, as well as networking.


Annex 1. Industrial contributions

  • Avantium believes in a fossil-free world. For this we need to redesign the way we convert wasted resources into virgin chemicals. Several developments are needed to exist to achieve this. The first one is to develop better catalytic processes to efficiently convert waste materials into virgin chemicals. We need to move away from energy inefficient separation techniques like distillation and investigate techniques like adsorption, membranes, and extraction where possible. Preferably we should develop processes to re-use waste materials by for instance pyrolysis and gasification and invest in CO2 converting techniques like electrolysis.
  • ExxonMobil provided an overview of the ExxonMobil company and its role in the energy transition. Specific company activities and locations in the BeNeLux were highlighted and a summary of the ExxonMobil Global Outlook for 2050 was presented. Finally, some examples of the current activities and projects in low carbon intensity hydrogen, low emission fuels (e.g. sustainable aviation fuel) and advanced recycling of plastic waste were shared.”
  • Nobian’s focus is on the safe and reliable provision of high-purity salt, chlor-alkali, chloromethane, and hydrogen, by our integrated value chain with modern production locations in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Nobian’s ambition is to become one of the most sustainable chemical companies in Europe. It is planned to deliver on our climate targets ahead of the Paris Agreement by becoming carbon neutral in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2040. Electrification of the current manufacturing base is key to this. Next to this Nobian wants to help its customers reduce their carbon footprint with green products, accelerate growth in new and impactful sustainable markets and build strong connections with the communities in which we are located as well as with our own employees.
  • SABIC is active in several fields of decarbonization and circular economy in order to address the well-known challenges of plastic waste and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Chemical recycling via thermochemical conversion of mixed plastics waste to form raw materials for olefins and aromatics production plays a crucial role in SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, next to mechanical recycling and well-established and proven thermoplastic polymers based on renewable feedstock. SABIC as well as other petrochemical companies look forward to contributions from the catalyst community, especially for converting dirty and contaminated real-life waste streams, and under consideration of unavoidable heat and mass transfer limitations.


Annex 2. List of topics of research areas of interest in the field of catalysis


Previous topics:

  • Fossil raw materials
  • Biomass conversion
  • CO2 conversion and solar energy storage
  • Catalytic synthesis and Bioactive molecules
  • Precision synthesis of functional materials
  • Integrated Multi-catalyst/Muli reactor systems
  • Fundamentals and Methodology


Suggested updates (additional topics):

  • More general small molecule conversion (CO2, CH4, N2) with renewable technologies
  • Impure feedstocks/real waste conversion (could potentially be merged with 6. of above)
  • Plastic waste / existing materials recycling (could be merged with biomass conversion)
  • Societal acceptance of catalysis
  • Dissemination/Education: Role of Catalysis community in energy transition and circular economy transition