Only a couple of months into his PhD, and Joe Donnelly is paving the way towards further international relations…..
A recent collaboration with the group Pablo Dominguez De Maria from the “Institut für Technische Chemie und Makromolekulare Chemie” (ITMC) of Aachen University gave rise to an opportunity for an international visit, in order that I may learn techniques relating to the bio catalytic coupling of aldehydes to produce alpha hydroxy ketones. It was proposed that I may be able to develop the method for the coupling of renewable aldehydes for the production of fuel range molecules, which may be suitable with upgrading for use as renewable diesel or aviation fuel. The trip was two weeks in duration, and is planned to be the first of a few.
After a rather uneventful journey to Aachen I found my hotel with relative ease and settled in before travelling to the university the next morning. Upon arriving at the centre (after a rather pitiful scene of trying to communicate with particularly irritable bus driver) I met with Dr. Pablo Dominguez de Maria and Christoph Müller, with whom I was to be working with for the duration of the visit. Under the guidance of Christoph, I was to investigate the coupling of various renewable aldehydes identified from the literature, and the scope of aldehyde substrates that were able to be coupled to produce fuel range molecules. During the two weeks much progress was made, and some unexpected results were obtained giving rise to the possibility of a publication after a little more follow up work back in bath which is currently under way.
However, all work and no play makes Joe a dull Ph.D. student, and with that in mind much time was spent eating at the Christmas market and drinking gluwein with the group and various members of the department. This propensity to gravitate towards the Christmas market of an evening, resulted in my learning to say only one thing in German with acceptable proficiency – “I would like one sausage please”
I had a great time in Aachen, met some great people and learnt a lot of new skills which hopefully will result in some excellent research outputs in the coming weeks and months!