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Transforming Waste into Gold! TalTech’s Chemists Leading the Charge in Green Chemistry.

Yevgen Karpichev from Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering research group. Photo: TalTech
Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering research group in work. Photo: TalTech

In the heart of Estonia, nestled within the vibrant academic landscape of TalTech, a team of visionary chemists is moving to a groundbreaking shift of paradigm in chemistry. Their mission? To harness the power of sustainability and pave the way for a greener, eco-conscious future.

Embracing Sustainability in Estonia’s Wood Industry

Estonia boasts vast forests that cover over half of its land area, underscoring the importance of its forestry sector to the nation’s economy and culture. With a commitment to sustainability woven into its Environmental Action Plan, Estonia is at the forefront of responsible wood and forest management plans. By converting wood by-products into valuable resources, Estonia has a great opportunity to utilize its natural treasures while contributing to a cleaner, more sustainable world.

TalTech’s Vision for a Sustainable World

At TalTech, chemists are not just scientists; they’re trailblazers on a mission to reshape the chemistry landscape. With a firm dedication to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, they’re pioneering research in environmental materials and green technologies. Their goal? To replace non-renewable materials with sustainable alternatives, driving progress towards a more sustainable future for all.

Chemistry: Sustainable Catalysts Steal the Spotlight

The chemistry landscape is undergoing a revolution at TalTech, particularly in cross-coupling reactions crucial for creating complex substances like medicines. Traditionally, the Suzuki-Miyaura and relative coupling processes, though effective, posed environmental challenges due to the use of less eco-friendly chemicals. TalTech scientists are changing the game by incorporating plant-derived components, promising not just financial benefits but also contributing to a cleaner, sustainable future.

Unlock Nature’s Treasure: Lignin

Lignin, the Earth’s second most abundant substance, often discarded as a byproduct in the production of items such as paper. Currently, approximately 95% of the about 100 million tons produced annually are burned, representing a missed opportunity. Scientists are exploring innovative ways to transform lignin into valuable materials, essentially turning waste into treasure and potentially reshaping the future of manufacturing.

The TalTech scientists have engineered a reusable cartridge for a continuous flow reactor. Photo: TalTech.

Magical Moves by Green Chemists at TalTech

The researchers from Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering research group of Yevgen Karpichev under the of Wood Chemistry/Puidukeemia umbrella projects (Dr. Tiit Lukk) have developed a novel greener route of lignin functionalization, making it possible to prepare novel functional materials. Among them – a groundbreaking catalyst named Lignin@Pd/CuO-NPs. This extraordinary catalyst boasts superior qualities, including ease of production, versatility, recyclability, and the ability to endure multiple uses.

A Catalyst That Can Do It All: Creating Bonds in Style

Lignin@Pd/CuO-NPs has showcased its versatility by facilitating various connections between carbon atoms, from straightforward reactions to complex processes. Its remarkable ability to maintain effectiveness across numerous attempts underscores its reusability, marking a significant advancement in sustainable catalysts.

A Whole New Way to Mix Things Up: The Continuous Flow Reactor

The TalTech scientists have engineered a reusable cartridge for a continuous flow reactor. This innovative device operates like a magic potion maker for the catalyst, ensuring optimal performance even with minimal amounts and maintaining the quality of the produced substances. This development signifies a more sustainable approach to large-scale reactions.

Measuring the ‘Greenness’: Checking the Chemistry

Demonstrating their commitment to sustainability, the TalTech scientists meticulously assessed the eco-friendliness of their entire procedure. From the initial stages to the utilization of the innovative Lignin@Pd/CuO-NPs catalyst, every step adhered to strict sustainability standards, resembling a report card for their exemplary green chemistry practices, setting a new benchmark.

A Greener Chemistry Future Beckons

The creation of Lignin@Pd/CuO-NPs stands as an achievement helping to revolutionize impact a positive impact of chemistry on the planet. As the global community seeks more eco-friendly alternatives, this catalyst opens doors to cleaner and smarter manufacturing processes. The research conducted by TalTech’s Ph.D. student Mahendra Kothottil Mohan serves as a guiding light for future discoveries, steering the world of chemistry toward a more sustainable future. Brace yourselves for a chemistry revolution – turning waste into gold and ushering in a greener tomorrow!

The research article is available for further exploration at ChemSusChem.

For further information contact Yevgen Karpichev

Reference: Mahendra K. Mohan, Oleg Silenko, Illia Krasnou, OlgaVolobujeva, Maria Kulp, Maksim Ošeka, Tiit Lukk, and Yevgen Karpichev, Chloromethylation of Lignin as a Route to Functional Material with Catalytic Properties in Cross-Coupling and Click Reactions, ChemSusChem 2024, e202301588.


This article was sent to us by TalTech (Tallinn University of Technology).

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