Project 16 from 2013

New catalytic route from biomass waste to fuel

Program name of PN II: IDEI, Research Programme Romania - Switzerland





Project description

The idea of this project is to combine the fragmentation of lignin with catalytic acylation of the fragments with fatty acids, which can also be obtained from bio sources. Nowadays, both esterification of fatty acids and transesterification of fatty esters is carried out with low alcohols that is not an economic solution. These alcohols could be better valorized in the production of various chemicals. Instead of them, acylation of compounds produced from fragmentation of lignin like: p-coumaryl alcohol, coniferyl alcohol and sinapyl alcohol could represent a very efficient solution.



The main objectives of the project are the following: 

  • To establish a new route to valorize lignin.
  • To catalyze depolymerization of lignin under mild conditions coupled with catalytic acylation of the resulted fragments.
  • To synthesize novel heterogeneous catalysts (based on nano-fumctionalized structures) to depolymerize lignin and acylate the resulted fragments.
  • To exhaustively characterize the catalysts.
  • To establish an analytic methodology to quantitatively evaluate lignin, its degradation and its reaction products.


Coordinating institution

University of Bucharest

Faculty of Chemistry

Department of Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Catalysis

Bd. Regina Elisabeta nr. 4-12, 030018, Bucharest, Romania



Partner: Jeroen A. van Bokhoven

Research Field Mathematics, natural sciences

Main Discipline 20507 Chemical Engineering

University or college ETH Zürich – ETHZ


Contracting authority (project financing):

1. Unitatea Executivă pentru Finanţarea Învăţământului Superior, a Cercetării, Dezvoltării şi Inovării (UEFISCDI),

Bucureşti, Str. D. I. Mendeleev nr. 21-25, sector 1, tel 021 3023850, fax. 021 3115992, cod fiscal 12354176, cont IBAN RO83 TREZ 7015 003X XX01 1609, Trez. Sect.1, e-mail office@uefiscsdi.ro, reprezentată prin Ordonator de credite Director General Adrian CURAJ şi Contabil Şef Elena TIŢA

2. Swiss National Science Foundation


Duration of the project: 36 months (2013-2015)


Implementation Plan


1. Valorization of Lignin

  • Establishment of an analytic methodology for the quantitative evaluation of lignin fragmentation products.
  • Synthesis of novel heterogeneous catalysts (based on nano-fumctionalized structures) for depolymerization of lignin and acylation of the resulted fragments
  • Catalytic depolymerization of lignin under mild conditions coupled with catalytic acylation of the resulted fragments
  • Exhaustive characterization of the catalysts

2. Synthesis of fuels via acylation of fragmented lignin with fatty acids


  • Selection of a heterogeneous catalyst
  • Catalytic acylation of the resulted fragments
  • Optimized reaction conditions for all the tasks





Project Budget

214910 CHF

Source 1: UEFISCDI - 60064 CHF, 228243 lei 

Source 2: Swiss National Science Foundation -154846 CHF



The project started in January 2013.


 Contact information of Project Manager

Professor Vasile PARVULESCU telefon/fax: +40(21) 410 02 41, e-mail: vasile.parvulescu@g.unibuc.ro


The main activities in 2014 had the following objectives:

  1. Synthesis and characterization of nano-structured catalysts for lignin fragmentation.
  2. Optimization of catalytic depolymerization of lignin (the study of the influence of temperature, pressure, solvent).


Catalysts of Nb2O5, x%Co/Nb2O5 (x=2,3,4), Nb2O5/Fe3O4, x%Co/Nb2O5/Fe3O4 (x=1,2,3,4,5,10, 20), x%Re y%Co/Nb2O5/Fe3O4 (x=2,3, y=2,3,4) type were prepared.

  •  They were characterized by various techniques: thermogravimetric analysis, X ray diffraction, Raman and FTIR spectroscopy.
  • They were tested for lignin depolymerization reactions, following how the variation of temperature and pressure influence the reaction, the influence of the solvent and the influence of reaction time. It was aimed at optimization of the catalytic depolymerization of lignin.            

All phase objectives were met.

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Pagină actualizată la 02 Decembrie 2014.