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Biobased platform chemicals from macroalgae

PhD ceremony:A. (Angela) Martina, MSc
When:June 18, 2024
Start:16:15
Supervisors:prof. dr. ir. H.J. (Hero Jan) Heeres, F. (Francesco) Picchioni, Prof
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering
Biobased platform chemicals from macroalgae

A biorefinery processes biomass into energy, food, feed, biofuels, and biobased chemicals, with the goal of maximizing value and minimizing waste. Seaweed, or macroalgae, has a high potential to be used as input for such biorefineries. This is, among other reasons, due to its high carbohydrate and low lignin content. This composition facilitates the depolymerization and conversion into biofuels and biobased chemicals. 

Despite these advantages, the use of macroalgae as input for biorefineries is still in its infancy, and only single-product outlets (e.g., food/feed) have been commercialized. To stimulate the development of seaweed biorefineries, conversion to novel high-value platform chemicals, for instance, to be used as building blocks for advanced plastics, is highly desirable. 

In her PhD research, Angela Martina developed efficient routes for the conversion of a representative red macroalgae (Eucheuma cottonii) to two important platform chemicals (5-hydroxymethylfurfural and levulinic acid). She conducted experimental studies to improve product yields by using tailored catalysts and optimizing process conditions.