Pickering interfacial catalysis for organic synthesis: a hotbed for innovation
Comparison between Pickering Assisted Catalysis (PAC) (top) and Pickering
Interfacial Catalysis (PIC) (bottom) for conducting L-L-S reactions. In PAC, the catalyst (green squares) is located preferentially in one of the bulk phases, whereas in PIC, the catalyst is self-assembled at the L-L interface.
Reactions between immiscible reagents in the presence of solid catalysts (liquid-liquid-solid, L-L-S reactions) are extensively used in the chemical industry. However, conventional reactors such as stirred tanks can suffer from strong mass/heat transfer limitations due to the poor contact between the phases and a reduced accessibility of the reactants to the catalyst surface.
For a major improvement on current systems in terms of cost efficiency, energy savings and environmental footprint, L-L-S reactors operating at the nanoscale are required. Recently, we have reported the Pickering interfacial catalysis (PIC) concept. It addresses the reaction between two immiscible reagents by the formation of L-L-S nanoreactors based on Pickering emulsions promoting the contact between the phases.
This paper presents an overview of recent examples of PIC systems developed at the E2P2L Laboratory in Shanghai and applied to industrially relevant reactions encompassing biomass-derived reagents for which reactivity is usually imprisoned due to low miscibility of the reagents. The PIC concept constitutes a hotbed for innovation, opening an avenue to the industrial synthesis of high added-value fine chemicals, specialties and biofuels that can only be afforded today using inefficient processes.
He was awarded the 2017 Young Researcher’s Prize from the Catalysis Division of the French Society of Chemistry.