Co-founders of POLYKEY Andere Basterretxea Gorostiza & Coralie Jehanno awarded by the Real Sociedad Española de Quimica for their doctoral theses
All team of POLYKEY is happy and proud to share with you this excellent news, Andere Basterretxea Gorostiza and Coralie Jehanno have been recently awarded for their Ph.D. work as best theses in polymer chemistry, first and second prize, respectively. This recognition given by the ‘Real Sociedad Española de Química’ (RSEQ) and the ‘Grupo especializado de Polímeros’ (GEP) is delivered every year considering the scientific production derived from the doctoral thesis, quality of said production, as well as possible technological transfer.
Andere and Coralie have been working under the supervision of Dr. Haritz Sardon, Prof. David Mecerreyes and Dr. Fernando Ruipérez at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). By being part of a European joint doctorate program (SUSPOL) , they have traveled to Belgium, England, or the USA and have been working in various environments under the supervision of famous names of the polymer chemistry including Prof. Andrew Dove, Dr. Olivier Coulembier or Prof. James Hedrick.
Their doctoral works focused on the use of organic molecules as inexpensive and less toxic catalysts for more sustainable polymerisation and depolymerisation reactions.
The research led by Andere addresses some of the challenges arising from the use of organic catalysts at high temperatures through the use of non-stoichiometric acid-base mixture catalysts also named Non-Eutectic Mixtures Organocatalysts (NEMOs). She demonstrated that NEMOs were resistant and efficient recyclable catalysts for the synthesis of bio-based polymers such as polyethers and polyesters. In her study, a perspective on the implementation of this organocatalyst family in industrial processes was explored, revealing that although there is still way ahead, the design of selective and sustainable organocatalysts efficient for high-temperature polymerisation is possible.
Coralie’s doctoral thesis depicts the use of an innovative acid-base organic catalyst for the recycling and upcycling of different commodity polymers by leading jointly experimental and theoretical investigations. Her results demonstrated that not only individual polymers can be depolymerised into monomers which can be employed for a new polymerisation, but also mixtures of polymers can be selectively recycled to obtain molecules of high added value for the polymer industry. By combining a recyclable thermostable organocatalyst with a careful choice of reactants and depolymerisation reaction conditions, a simple and efficient strategy leads to novel recycling options.
Andere and Coralie would like to warmly acknowledge the members of the Innovative Polymer Group and the POLYMAT institute as well as the SUSPOL partners for the help and support provided. Such prizes are not won without a wonderful team aside!