Work Packages


Work package 1 is led by Cardiff University

The aims of work package 1 are to develop the fundamental catalytic reactions that will be required for the processing of biomass into useful chemicals and fuels. The processing of biomass, such as cellulose, involves significantly different chemistry to that applied to traditional fossil based carbon sources; notably the oxygen content must be reduced while retaining carbon and hydrogen if these resources are to be upgraded. In work package 1 of the project the catalysis tool box required for such transformations will be developed by concentrating on the fundamental reaction steps that will be needed: hydrogenation, decarboxylation, isomerisation/dehydration and combining these reactions with depolymerisation. To address these challenges we will work with novel catalyst synthesis approaches to create new nanoscale and nanoporous structures with the required catalytic activity. Characterisation, catalytic testing and computational modelling will be employed to develop a molecular level understanding so that tailored materials can be developed.     

Main Objectives

  • Develop synthetic approaches to allow controlled production of nano-particle metals and oxides for non-critical elements.
  • Use a combination of experimental characterisation, reactor scale testing and computer modelling to understand the activity of these materials as catalysts for the target reactions.
  • Make the catalysis design step to apply the understanding obtained to inform synthesis of catalysts with the required activity to allow cellulose upgrading to be realised.

Key activities:

Catalysis synthesis : Supported metal and oxide nanoparticles will be produced using a range of novel approaches including precipitation from salts and sols.

Characterisation : The atomic structure of the materials synthesised will be elucidated using a range of microscopy, spectroscopic and thermal programmed approaches.

Reaction testing : Micro-reactor scale testing of new materials will be used with model compounds for the key target reactions of hydrogenation, decarboxylation, isomerisation/dehydration.

Catalyst design : Quantum chemistry approaches will be used to generate fundamental understanding of the relation between catalyst structure and activity and combined with the experimental data to provide a mechanistic understanding of catalysed reactions. The resulting insight can be used to direct synthesis to improve promising candidate materials and suggest step changes in catalyst formulation.

Further information

Professor Graham Hutchings – Professor of Chemistry, Director UK Catalysis Hub


Work package 2 is led by Consejo Superior de Investigacionea Científicas-Instituto de Tecnología Química, (CSIC).

The aims of work package 2 are to demonstrate that it is possible to obtain high added value products from polysaccharides using catalysts that do not contain noble metals or metals that can be considered of high or moderate risk with regard to their availability.

Main Objectives

  • Production of gamma valerolactone directly from starch or cellulose using catalysts that do not contain noble or non-acceptable metals.
  • Development of catalytic decarboxylation.
  • Glycerol dehydration in aqueous media using hydrophobic solid acids.

 Key activities:

  • Investigating the performance of catalysts not based on ‘critical’ metals for combined isomerisation, dehydration, decarboxylation and transfer hydrogenation of glucose to gamma-valerolactone.
  • Investigating the performance of novel catalysts not based on ‘critical’ metals for the conversion of glucose to lactic acid and the subsequent decarboxylation to ethanol.
  • Evaluating nanoparticulate catalysts not based on ‘critical metals in the aqueous phase reforming of glycerol and carbohydrates.

For further information please contact Prof. Avelino Corma (, Hermenegildo Garcia ( and Emiel Hensen (


Work package 3 is led by Chemistry Innovation Ltd.

The aims of work package 3 are to maximise the impact of the project through wide dissemination of results and increased uptake of technologies developed.

Main Objectives

  • Wide dissemination of the project’s academic results within the chemical industry, the scientific community and the wider community.
  • Exploitation of technologies developed during the course of the project.
  • Development of a suite of training materials.

Key activities:

  • Training webinars for early stage researchers.
  • A final project conference to disseminate the scientific results of the project and to highlight the key learnings from managing joint EU-Japan research programmes.

For further information please contact

Project Coordinator: Professor Emiel Hensen, E.J.M.Hensen@TUE.NL Project Manager: Dr Gabriela Dima, G.E.Dima@TUE.NL

NOVACAM is a coordinated EU-Japan project supported by the European Union and the Japan Science and Technology Agency. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 604319.