Prof. dr. ir. B.M. (Bert) Weckhuysen

Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis
Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis
030 253 4328

The Weckhuysen group has been active for many years in the design, synthesis, characterization and application of catalytic solids for the conversion of fossil (crude oil & natural gas) and renewable (biomass and municipal waste) feedstock into transportation fuels, chemicals and materials. More recently, research is devoted to the catalytic activation of CO2 via thermal and electrocatalytic pathways and the photocatalytic and electrocatalytic splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen, as well as the chemical recycling of plastics.

The group is internationally known for the development of in-situ and operando spectroscopy and microscopy for studying catalytic solids under realistic conditions. This approach has provided unique insights in the working and deactivation mechanisms of catalytic processes, as well as in the internal architecture of solid catalysts. The goal is to shed detailed new insight in the working principles of catalytic solids while they work (i.e., at high temperatures and pressures, and under real-life conditions). To achieve this goal the group strives to build a “powerful camera” to chemically image heterogeneous catalysts from the level of the reactor down to the level of single atoms and molecules, thereby linking the different length scales of importance in catalysis.

More specifically, the following topics are researched in the Weckhuysen group:

·    Development and use of advanced spectroscopic methods applied on heterogeneous catalysts during preparation and real operation in order to develop structure-activity relationships for catalytic processes. Systems of interest are supported metal and metal oxide catalysts, zeolites as well as metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs). The main emphasis is on space- and time-resolved UV-Vis, Raman, IR, and fluorescence spectroscopy as well as X-ray spectroscopy, diffraction and scattering  methods, often in a combined or even integrated fashion. Catalytic reactions under study are methane and light alkanes activation, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, Sabatier reaction, fluid catalytic cracking, methanol-to-olefins, automotive catalysis as well as selective oxidation, biomass-derived oxygenates hydrogenation/hydrodeoxygenation and olefin polymerization reactions.

·    Catalytic conversion of biomass and municipal waste, such as plastics, to transportation fuels and bulk chemicals, more specifically the valorization of polyols, e.g. glycerol and sugars, via telomerization, hydrogenolysis and etherification, valorization of lignin, chitin and humins and related model compounds and the conversion of C5- and C6-sugars, including the selective hydrogenation of sugar-derived compounds, such as levulinic acid. This also includes the use of spectroscopy for monitoring biomass and waste conversion processes in the liquid phase (i.e., water at relatively high temperatures and pressures), including issues as catalyst stability.

·    Synthesis and characterization of ordered porous materials with catalytic potential. The focus is on the fundamental understanding of assembly processes of porous oxides, the development of spectroscopic tools to evaluate the synthesis parameters and the structural aspects of porous materials, including intergrowth structures, spatiotemporal zoning of elements, such as aluminum, and the processes of dealumination and desilication. The materials focus is on molecular sieves, including zeolites and metal organic frameworks. More recently, this topic has been extended to the detailed investigations of thin-films making use of atomic force microscopy in combination with vibrational and electronic spectroscopy, such as infrared, Raman and fluorescence microscopy.

·     Molecular design of transition metal ion complexes in inorganic hosts for catalysis and adsorption. Enzymes, the most effective catalysts in nature, are the inspiration source for this research. Catalytic reactions of interest are NO decomposition, methane activation and selective oxidation reactions. More recently this also involves photo-catalytic and (photo-) electrocatalytic applications, including solar fuels generation, including the construction of thin-films, which could separate and adsorb light molecules, such as CO2, and activate them with light or renewable electricity, harvested from wind or solar panels.

Since his start as a professor at Utrecht University, the following persons, 93 in total, have obtained their PhD degree under the supervision of Weckhuysen. Their current job assignments have also been included in the list. 

93: Shuang Yang, Research scientist at MAGNETO special anodes B.V. 

92: Iris ten Have: Head of Science at Extantia

91: Luca Carnevale: Postdoctoral Researcher at Twente University

90: Ahmed Ismail: Senior Scientist at TechnipFMC

89. Max Werny: : Venture Associate at Zero Carbon Capitald

88. Silvia Zanoni: Research Chemist at Ioniqa Technologies

87. Erik Maris: Postdoctoral Fellow at ETH Zurich

86. Sophie van Vreeswijk: Project Leader at Avantium

85. Bas Terlingen: Technical Consultant Energy at Mott McDonald

84. Roozbeh Valadian: Sales Manager at Granutools

83. Thomas van Swieten: Quantitative Risk Analyst at ABN AMRO Bank

82. Nikos Nikolopoulos: Project Leader at Shell

81. Koen Bossers: Scientist Polyolefins Catalysis at Sabic

80. Maarten Jongkind: Software Engineer at Triodos Bank

79. Xinwei Ye: Postdoctoral Fellow at Utrecht University

78. Stijn Hinterding: Researcher at ASML

77. Guusje Delen: R&D Team Lead Capture Materials at Skytree

76. Laurens Mandemaker: Postdoctoral Fellow at Utrecht University

75. Suzanne Verkleij: Researcher Environmental Safety at Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

74. Pasi Paalanen: Computational and Statistical Data Analyst

73. Katarina Stanciakova: Application Scientist at OpenEye

72. Anne-Eva Nieuwelink: Program Manager at Utrecht University

71. Beatriz Luna Murillo: Project Leader at Shell

70. Miguel Rivera Torrente: Project Leader at Shell

69. Charlotte Vogt: Assistant Professor at Technion

68. Jochem Wijten: Onderzoeker Omgevingsveiligheid at Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

67. Donglong Fu: Associate Professor at Tianjin University

66. Jeroen van Vollenbroek: Postdoctoral Fellow at University Medical Center Utrecht 

65. Katinka Wondergem: Assistant Professor at Nagoya University

64. Egor Fuvachev: Research Chemist at Ioniqa Technologies

63. Jose Moya Cancino: Lecturer at Universidad Finis Terrae

62. Ivan Garcia Torregrossa: Green Hydrogen Research Specialist at Sungrow Europe

61. Hai Le The: Surface Science Specialist at ASML

60. Marjolein Velthoen: Corporate Patent Councel at Avantium

59. Miguel Solsona: Postdoctoral Fellow at EPFL

58. Thomas Hartman: Research and Education Designer at Utrecht University & Scientific Illustrator at This

57. Robin Geitenbeek: Lecturer and Scientist Forensic Science at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

56. Ana Hernandez: Thermochemical Processes Scientist at Centro Nacional de Energías Renovables

55. Fang Liu: Research Engineer at TotalEnergies

54. Ozgun Attila: IT Operations Lead at Shell

53. Naresh Kumar: Senior Scientist and Lecturer at ETH Zurich

52. Joris Goetze: Patent Attorney at V.O. Patents & Trademarks

51. Zafer Ozturk: Research Data Steward at Twente University

50. Ramon Oord: Research Technician  at Utrecht University

49. Frank Hendriks: Machine Learning Engineer at Eneco

48. William van der Graaff: Application Scientist at Corbion

47. Sam Kalirai: Engineering Manager at Mitra Chem

46. Zoran Ristanovic: Analytical Chemistry Expert at TMC Science & Technology

45. Robin Jastrebski: Process Engineer at Avantium

44. Korneel Cats: Research Scientist at Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

43. Mustafa al Samarai: Senior Scientist at University of Tokyo

42. Dimitrije Cicmil: Global Lead for Process Review Teams at Grundfos

41. Joseph Stewart: Incubation Projects Manager at TotalEnergies

40. Matthijs de Winter: Teamleader at inHolland University of Applied Sciences

39. Carlo Angelici: Senior Scientist at Avantium

38. Sophie Wiedemann: Analytical Specialist at Cargill

37. Ilona van Zandvoort: Research Scientist at Avantium

36. Wenhao Luo: Full Professor at Inner Mongolia University

35. Evelien van Schrojenstein Lantman: Chief Operating Officer at Triply

34. Hendrik van der Bij: Global Business Manager at Ketjen Corporation

33. Jesper Sattler: R&D Project Manager at Eurotrol

32. Qingyun Qian: Research Scientist at ExxonMobil

31. Peter Spannring: Development Chemist at Indorama Ventures Europe

30. Dilek Boga: Business Development Executive at High Performance Compounds Kaucuk

29. Clare Harvey: Team Leader and Project Manager Circular Plastics at TNO

28. Annelie Jongerius: Technology Manager at Avantium

27. Upakul Deka: Scientific and Management Expert in Chemicals, Catalysis, Circular Economy & Sustainability at Shell

26. Peter Hausoul: Group Leader at RWTH Aachen University

25. Luis Aramburo Corrales: Chemical Engineer at BeePlanet Factory

24. Inge Buurmans: Research Scientist at Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

23. Davide Mores: Business Developer Chemistry & Explosion Safety at TNO

22. Bart Hereijgers: Business Manager Custom Catalysts at Euro Support

21. Lukasz Karwacki: New Business Development and Sustainability Manager at BASF

20. Nadya Beznis: Logistics Support Desk Supervisor at Nouryon

19. Emiel de Smit: Staff Scientist at ExxonMobil

18. Peter de Peinder: Founder and Scientist at VibSpec

17. Marianne Kox: New Fuels Projects Team Leader at Shell

16. Leticia Espinosa Alonso: Head of Consumer Biosolutions Digital at Novozymes

15. Muriel Lepage: Program Manager at Toyota

14. Elena Parvulescu: Global Innovation Manager Monomers Division at BASF

13. Ingmar Swart: Associate Professor at Utrecht University

12. Alwies van der Heijden: Founder and Consultant at Techem Consultancy

11. Daniel Radu: Planning Engineer at TotalEnergies

10. Jaap Bergwerff: Research Director at Ketjen

9. Pieter Bruijnincx: Full Professor at Utrecht University

8. Joost van Lingen: Senior Program Manager & Product Team Leader at TNO

7. Cristina Nenu: CO2 Capture & Utilization Portfolio Manager at Shell

6. Daphne Keller: Chemistry & Physics Teacher at Korenaer

5. Stan Tinnemans: QA Head Benelux at GSK

4. Fernando Morales: R&D Manager at Haldor Topsoe

3. Gerbrand Mesu: Senior Scientist at Phillips 66

2. Willem Heijboer: Senior Scientist at Tata Steel

1. Pieter van der Avert: General Manager at Scaldis SMC