Prof. Dr. ir Bert F. Sels
Prof. Bert F. Sels obtained his PhD degree in 2000 at the Catholic University of Leuven on oxidation chemistry, after which he did a post-doc with BASF until 2002. Another 3 years post-doc for the National Science Foundation was dedicated to the “activation of nitrous oxide” and the “microscopic imaging of catalytic events”. He became Assistant Professor in 2003, teaching courses on analytical chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis. He is appointed Full Professor at Leuven since 2006 in the Faculty of Bioengineering Sciences. He has published about 140 scientific papers and 11 patents, and is recipient of numerous awards including the prestigious international DSM chemistry award. His current research explores heterogeneous catalysis for renewables conversion and small molecule activation.
Routes for production of value-added chemicals from cellulose by liquid-phase catalytic processing
Bert F. Sels
Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 23, 3001 Heverlee (Belgium)
The selective conversion of cellulosic biomass and other carbohydrates by mono- and bifunctional catalysts is of major industrial importance, and improving its efficiency and selectivity towards value-added chemicals remains a prime objective. Examples are the reductive splitting of cellulose to sorbitol and mannitol, sorbitans and isosorbide, precursors in the production of plastics and pharmaceuticals, and saccharification of cellulose to glucose, which amongst others, offers a feedstock for bio-ethanol production, or conversion of cellulose to levulinic acid, which can for instance be used in the synthesis of bisphenol A substitutes . Carbohydrates may also be a source towards new building likes like -hydroxy esters .
We recently reviewed new advances in the heterogeneous catalytic conversion of cellulose , requiring the design of efficient, multifunctional systems with accessible acid and metal sites. This presentation overviews the usefulness of chemocatalytic systems for the selective transformation of cellulose into chemicals. The reactivity of various sources of cellulose towards chemical reaction is discussed first in relation to its crystallinity and chemical structure using X-ray diffraction, FT-IR and 13C NMR. The impact of various cellulose mechanical, physical and chemical pre-treatment methods such as ball milling and atmospheric plasma will be systematically shown for a set of chemical reaction types such as hydrolysis and reductive splitting. The aspect of accessibility (with regard to active surface area) during hydrolysis and the importance (or not) of solid-solid phase interactions will be discussed in a series of catalytic systems using classic porous materials such as zeolites , porous carbon , carbon fibres , soluble branched polymers  and (in)soluble heteropolyacids . (Dis)Advantages such as active site density, active site compartmentalization and mobility and sorption aspects will be highlighted into more detail.
 Van De Vyver, S., Helsen, S., Geboers, J., Yu, F., Thomas, J., Smet, M., Dehaen, W., Román-Leshkov, Y., Hermans, I., Sels, B.F., ACS Catalysis, 2, 2012, 2700-2704; Van De Vyver, S., Geboers, J., Helsen, S., Yu, F., Thomas, J., Smet, M. , Dehaen, W., Sels, B.F., Chem. Commun., 48, 2012, 3497-3499.
 F. de Clippel, M. Dusselier, R. Van Rompaey, P. Vanelderen, J. Dijkmans, E. Makshina, L. Giebeler, S. Oswald, G. V. Baron, J. F. M. Denayer, P. P. Pescarmona, P. A. Jacobs and B. F. Sels, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2012, 134, 10089-10101; L. Li, C. Stroobants, K. Lin, P. A. Jacobs, B. F. Sels and P. P. Pescarmona, Green Chem., 2011, 13, 1175-1181; M. Dusselier, P. Van Wouwe, F. de Clippel, J. Dijkmans, D. W. Gammon and B. F. Sels, ChemCatChem, 2013, DOI: 10.1002/cctc.201200476.
 a) S. Van de Vyver, J. Geboers, P. A. Jacobs, B. F. Sels, ChemCatChem 2011, 3, 82-94; b) J. A. Geboers, S. Van de Vyver, R. Ooms, B. Op de Beeck, P. A. Jacobs, B. F. Sels, Catal. Sci. Technol. 2011, 1, 714-726.
 J. Geboers, S. Van de Vyver, K. Carpentier, P. Jacobs, B. Sels, Chem. Commun. 2011, 47, 5590-5592.
 S., Van de Vyver; L., Peng; J., Geboers; H., Schepers; F., De Clippel; C. J., Gommes; B., Goderis; P. A., Jacobs; B. F., Sels, Green Chemistry, 12, 2010, 1560–1563.
 a) S., Van de Vyver; J., Geboers; M., Dusselier; H., Schepers; T., Vosch; L., Zhang; G., Van Tendeloo; P. A., Jacobs; B. F., Sels, ChemSusChem, 3, 2010, 698–701. b) Stijn Van de Vyver, Jan Geboers, Wouter Schutyser, Michiel Dusselier, Pierre Eloy, Emmie Dornez, Jin Won Seo, Christophe M. Courtin, Eric M. Gaigneaux, Pierre A. Jacobs, Bert F. Sels, ChemSusChem, 5, 2012, 1549-1558.
 S. Van de Vyver, J. Thomas, J. Geboers, S. Keyzer, M. Smet, W. Dehaen, P. A. Jacobs, B. F. Sels, Energy Environ. Sci 2011, 4, 3601-3610.
 a) J. Geboers, S. Van de Vyver, K. Carpentier, K. de Blochouse, P. Jacobs, B. Sels, Chem. Commun. 2010, 46, 3577-3579; b) J. Geboers, S. Van de Vyver, K. Carpentier, P. Jacobs, B. Sels, Green Chem. 2011, 13, 2167-2174.