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Dr G.J.M. Gruter (1963) has been named professor by special appointment of Industrial Sustainable Chemistry (ISC) at the Faculty of Science (FNWI) of the University of Amsterdam, effective from 20 October 2016. The chair was established on behalf of the Stichting Beta Plus and facilitated by Avantium.

Prof Gert-Jan Gruter, professor Industrial Sustainable Chemistry
Photo: Dirk Gillissen

Gert-Jan Gruter specializes in catalysis, bio-based chemistry, bio-based polymers and sustainability. At the chemical technology company Avantium he is responsible for all R&D programmes in the field of Renewable Chemistry. He has initiated groundbreaking sustainable programmes such as a technology known as YXY, which can be used to produce FDCA monomer and PEF polyester from sugars. PEF is a bio-based, sustainable alternative to polyethylene terephthalate or PET, a material widely used in plastic bottles.

Towards a circular economy

In his appointment at the UvA, Gruter will be focusing on the transition to a circular economy, and more specifically the transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy. This involves connecting sustainable development to the production of energy and chemicals. Critical research questions Gruter will investigate include the following: can we design closed cycles for the sustainable production of sustainable materials, and can we construct catalysts from earth-abundant, cheap and non-toxic metals? He will also explore ways of efficiently using electricity to convert cheap feedstock such as CO2 to produce chemicals.

Gruter’s chair belongs to the UvA’s Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) and is part of the UvA-wide research theme Sustainable Chemistry. In addition, Gruter will also be given guest teaching assignments, in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Chemistry, but also in the Bachelor’s programme Future Planet Studies and the Master’s track in Science, Business and Innovation.


Gruter has been working for technology company Avantium since 2000, initially as Vice President Technology and as Chief Technology Officer since 2004. In 2014 Gruter was named ‘European CTO of the year’, a prize awarded by EIRMA and Spinverse. From 1999 to 2006, Gruter was employed as a professor by special appointment of Polymer Catalysis at Eindhoven University of Technology. Before joining Adventum, he lead a Polyolefins Catalyst Development research group at DSM Research.

Gruter has over 200 patents and patent applications to his name, and has authored about 30 scientific papers and book chapters, including Polymer Chemistry and Biomass and Bioenergy. Gruter is a member of the innovation and sustainability policy teams of the Association of the Dutch Chemical Industry. These provide the Association’s board with advice on strategy. He is also member of the core team of APC, a working group that brings together leading R&D managers from the agricultural, paper and chemical industries.

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