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REfining LIgnin by advanced Catalytic schemes powered by Sunlight


Turning valuable though outcasted lignocellulosic biomass, such as forestry and agricultural waste, into commodity chemicals by using renewable energies is key to disrupt our ongoing dependence on oil refineries and fossil fuels and to stimulate the growth of a sustainable industry. The lack of effective valorization strategies to mine the valuable chemicals locked into lignin, one of the major components of this biomass, is holding back this transition. Using sunlight to drive this valorization is key to embrace sustainability. In this sense, photocatalysis is the prevalent strategy when targeting the upscaling of solar-driven chemistry. The realization of this concept has been prevented by huge fundamental and technical hurdles, viz. the lack of knowledge on the redox processes involved in the valorization, on specific catalysts and on the optimum systems for light harnessing and utilization. The RELICS will deploy an interdisciplinary approach of materials’ synthesis, interfacial engineering and operando characterization to pioneer new selective catalysts with specific end-products and tailor-made photocatalysts (PCs). Our definitive goal of demonstrating a photocatalytic machinery with programmed selectivity and breakthrough yields of lignin conversion will be enabled through advancing the project’s core objectives: (1) the rational design of electrocatalysts for the selective production of phenolic aldehydes or ketones, guided by (2) a profound understanding of the reaction mechanism and (3) the fabrication of multijunction PCs with intentionally-defined selectivity and enhanced photogenerated carrier utilization. The use of (photo)electrochemical model systems will support project progress by accelerating materials’ optimization and providing a reliable platform for the operando analysis of the reactive interface. All in all, the scientific outcomes of RELICS will positively impact the fields of organic electrosynthesis and solar energy conversion.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 536 183,00
03690 Alicante

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Este Comunitat Valenciana Alicante/Alacant
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 536 183,00

Beneficiaries (1)