Catalytic methods for new materials
Until recently, it was a “dream reaction”: a doubling of the chain length of natural fatty acids, and this in an entirely catalytic, scaleable and virtually wast-free fashion. In this case, vegetable oils and algae oils are the feedstock for which this reaction was realized – to generate new chemical building blocks, which, on a regenerative basis, opens the door to a whole new range of polymer materials and products. This multi-faceted challenge is one example of the subject areas covered by the Mecking Group.
“Our research deals with the discovery of new and unusual catalytic paths, which open the door to materials which have been inaccessible up to now,” Prof. Stefan Mecking explains. “The aim of our research is to understand the different processes, some of which are interlocking, of catalytic transformations on a molecular level.” This includes the activation of small molecules, without allowing the active centre to be destroyed by functional groups which are also highly reactive, as well as the development of larger, defined molecule structures enabled hereby, and the arrangement of these into superstructures. Special attention is devoted to the question of how the properties of a material evolve during its creation. In his research, Stefan Mecking has already found an industrial application, in designing plastics which are less brittle and hence more durable.