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Studio classroom integrated homogeneous catalysis using microelectronic flow systems: introducing a new era in catalysis research

Final Activity Report Summary - VISION CATALYSIS (Studio classroom integrated homogeneous catalysis using microelectronic flow systems: introducing a new era in catalysis research)

The project consisted of four parts:
1) e-learning,
2) flow techniques,
3) microfluidics, and
4) datamining.

As only three years were available the activities were run in parallel and several other teachers were involved. The E-learning modules "Homogeneous Catalysis" are based on the book of the CH, ("Homogenous Catalysis: Understanding the Art", Springer, 2004, second printing 2005), the most recent and popular book on concepts in the discipline.

An interactive, computer-hosted course was created in collaboration with a professional institute (Amstel) and many contributing teachers (University of Amsterdam, Technical University of Eindhoven, University of St Andrews, University of Lyon, University Rovira I Virgili of Tarragona, and ICIQ, the host institute). The resulting course is available in Blackboard and as separate units for other platforms from a portal for education set up by the Dutch universities (Surf Organisation). It contains pre-tests, interactive tests for basic knowledge and more advanced knowledge, industrial applications, practical issues supported with videos, recent advances of importance, videos of courses (including one by Nobel laureate Grubbs!) continuous updates, etc. Especially in the new European scene with an increasing amount of exchanges of students with different background and previous training received, the e-learning system is extremely helpful in dealing with such inequalities. Video lectures were shared between universities and all universities mentioned above made use of the e-learning Blackboard system via Amsterdam. The experience with the e-learning system was highly positive in terms of appreciation and efficiency; students who practiced in the e-learning system all received high marks and thus the participation in the e-learning can be used to monitor the students' advances and interest. To foster new, future activities in homogeneous catalysis Prof. Kamer (U of St Andrews) gave a course in Tarragona entitled biochemical sources of inspiration for homogeneous catalysis, which was attended by a large number of people (80).

Part 2) concerned a brief course about flow systems to run homogeneous catalytic reactions on microscale. In addition to the acquired Tarragona systems also the industrial equipment was discussed in the course. This was part of the Tarragona course on microreactors, which so far has not been distributed to other places. The course was highly appreciated by the students.

Part 3) involved the installation of six microfluidic reactor systems. Several types were installed ranging from simple ones to multistep, multipurpose microfluidic reactor systems, high-pressure, and immobilised systems.

Part 4) concerned datamining, involving in particular the use of property-performance relationships (QSAR). The most up-to-date approach in this area was highlighted by Prof. Rothenberg (Amsterdam) who developed a ligand-property versus catalysts performance computer-based analysis, for which not all that many data are required to obtain useful results. The course was attended by 70 people from the host institute and the university and it was especially appreciated by the theoretical chemists, because of its simplicity relative to the DFT methods that they use (follow-up research is ongoing).

The ample support in people and finance by the other participants has been extremely important for the success of the e-learning project; students, post-docs and the Amstel institute of the U of Amsterdam (former employer of the CH) have been highly instrumental. The e-learning project will continue under the auspices of IDECAT (as planned!), and it is interesting to note that an initiative has been started to form a similar system for heterogeneous catalysis (University Berlin, MPI). Microflow activities will be continued by the host institute in a wider context. The project was amply supported financially by the host institute, the University of Amsterdam, and IDECAT via the local branches involved.