A young researcher in the spotlight: Dr Valentin Smeets

I am a postdoctoral researcher at UCLouvain (Belgium) and winner of the 2019 ISGS PhD Thesis Award for my work entitled “New synthetic approaches to efficient Ti-SiO 2 epoxidation catalysts”.

During my PhD – carried out under the supervision of Professors Damien Debecker and Eric Gaigneaux from UCLouvain – I developed innovative sol-gel techniques (including aerosol-assisted sol-gel, non-hydrolytic sol-gel, soft templating routes, etc) for the preparation of efficient Ti-SiO 2 heterogeneous catalysts used in batch and continuous flow epoxidation. Significantly, we also discovered a new method for preparing hybrid multifunctional catalysts by coupling an inorganic catalyst and an enzyme within a single solid material. Arguably, this proof-of-concept could pave the way to progress in the field of multifunctional hybrid materials, with numerous possible applications in the domain of nano(bio) technologies.

My current postdoctoral research is being undertaken in partnership with Casale SA, a Swiss company that provides solutions worldwide for the production of fertilizers and chemicals. My aspiration is to share my expertise and enthusiasm to contribute to a sustainable future for the chemical industry, and I am convinced that catalysis will be a pillar to promote and sustain this transition.