An innovative research project in the analytical sciences has received substantial funding by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO. The MAnIAC project, led by Prof. Peter Schoenmakers of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, aims at combining analytical methods that until now have been considered incompatible. The total project budget is over a million euro.
Analytical devices are of great importance for modern society in areas such as health, food and the environment. In industrial and commercial applications they enable, for instance, important quality and safety assessments. In research and innovation they provide crucial information leading to thorough understanding.
In many cases the combination of two analytical techniques is far more valuable than either one of the techniques individually.
A beautiful example is the addition of mass spectrometry to gas chromatography. This yields the powerful GC-MS duo which is widely used in areas such as food analysis, drug development and environmental analysis. Various other combinations of analytical techniques are equally desirable, but much less attainable.
With their project “Making Analytically Incompatible Approaches Compatible” (ManIAC) researchers in analytical technology expect to significantly improve this. They aim at linking a large variety of analytical devices. This will allow much better and more efficient research in a broad range of current topics such as the development of sustainable raw materials and processes for the chemical industry.
The MAnIAC project is part of the Technology Area “Comprehensive Analytical Science and Technology” (COAST), a public-private partnership of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO with industrial partners. Prof. Peter Schoenmakers (UvA-HIMS) is the principal investigator and Dr Ron Peters (DSM, visiting scientist at the UvA) acts as MAnIAC project manager.
Other academic institutions involved are Radboud University (Prof. Dr Arno Kentgens), VU University Amsterdam (Prof. Dr Govert Somsen) and the University of Groningen (Prof. Dr Elisabeth Verpoorte). Private partners are Heineken, Shell, DSM en Micronit Microfluidics. The total project budget is 1,065,000 euro.
The research will be directed at the application areas of the participating companies. New combined instruments will become available to gain new insights in processes such as the degradation of various types of particles (natural materials, including milled grains, but also synthetic resins) and complex molecules, such as lignins. Moreover, microbial reactors will be studied in relation to the beer-brewing process.
Valorization beyond the MAnIAC project will be led by Micronit Microfluidics. This company will design and produce components that can be used for a near infinite array of applications. Creating a generic MAnIAC toolbox is a key objective of the project.