New DFG Transregional Collaborative Research Center Established at the CRC

The German Research Foundation DFG has decided to fund a new Transregional Collaborative Research Center (TRR) between catalysis researchers from TUM CRC and the University of Regensburg. Under the spokepersonship of Thorsten Bach, the TRR 325 “Assembly Controlled Chemical Photocatalysis” aims to develop a new generation of photocatalytic systems for organic synthesis by controlling the interactions between the catalyst and its reaction partners. In the long term, it seeks to contribute to achieving greater savings of energy and resources in light-driven reactions.

Official TUM press release

Johannes A. Lercher is awarded with the renowned Alwin Mittasch Prize

The German Catalysis Society (GeCatS) awards Johannes A. Lercher with the prestigious 2021 Alwin Mittasch Prize  for the development and understanding of solid catalysts in order to exploit new sources of raw materials. His distinguished scientific work on fundamental understanding of catalysts and catalytic processes for the synthesis of energy carriers and chemical intermediates is honored with 10.000€. Based on the characterization of catalysts and their active sites, using state-of-the-art physicochemical methods, Johannes A. Lercher develops novel catalysts that enable a better exploitation of chemical potentials along the reaction pathway. Studies on changes of the catalyst over its life cycle also allow the identification of the ideal operating state and its limits for industrial processes.

Shigeyoshi Inoue receives the prestigeous ERC Consolidator Grant

Prof. Shigeyoshi Inoue is awarded with the ERC Consolidator Grant for his ALLOWE project on highly reactive low-valent aluminum complexes and their application in synthesis and catalysis. These compounds are highly reactive and therefore of great interest for chemical synthesis and catalysis. They could represent an inexpensive, sustainable and non-toxic alternative to industrial chemical processes currently based on transition metals.

Offical TUM press release

Highly dynamic structural changes at the surface of copper electrocatalysts

The team of Karsten Reuter has found highly dynamic structural changes at the surface of working copper electrocatalysts. These changes turn out to be key to the high performance and could be a design target for future improved catalysts for splitting water into hydrogen or producing synthetic fuels. Unfortunately, presently these catalysts often consist of rare elements such as platinum or iridium, which are either very expensive to obtain or not available in the quantities needed for a global energy supply. Therefore, catalysis research is looking for more abundant alternatives.

In their work published in Nature Catalysis, the teams of Julia Kunze-Liebhäuser (University of Innsbruck) and Karsten Reuter show that during the electrooxidation reaction of carbon monoxide (CO)  copper catalysts have their own solution to this problem. CO is an intermediate product that is produced during the conversion of fuels in fuel cells. To prevent the fuel cell from being poisoned, it must be disposed of through the electrooxidation reaction. During the reaction, the scientists observed that the copper surface is continuously converted and that small islands consisting of a few copper atoms are continuously formed. The charge of adsorbing ions gets stored in these protruding, nanometer-sized clusters. In the studied electrooxidation reaction in the used alkaline electrolyte this is especially the charge of the involved hydroxide (OH-) ions. This leads to fundamentally different binding properties to the catalyst than for the neutral reaction partner CO. The hydroxide ions are bound weaker, the CO stronger - exactly the mixture required for the observed high catalytic activity.

Hydrochloric acid treatment improves catalysts for removing sulfur from crude oil

The team of Johannes Lercher has developed a synthesis process which drastically increases the activity of catalysts for the desulfurization of crude oil. The new process could perhaps also be used for catalysts in fuel cells.

For more information see the TUM press release, as well as Prof. Lercher's webpage.

Online TUM-JST symposium „Catalysis Science – Quo Vadis” on July 27-28, 2020

The symposium “Catalysis Science – Quo Vadis” for early and mid-career scientists from Japan and Europe took place as an online webinar on July 27-28, 2020. Organized by Roland Fischer, Director of the CRC  and Hiroshi Kitagawa (Kyoto University), Supervisor of the PRESTO (Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology) Innocat program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the symposium aimed to connect 19 emerging leaders in catalysis science from Japan with a matching selection of 20 early and mid-career scientists from Europe, with the purpose to get together, find common research interests and to build a transcontinental network.

Owing to the current COVID-19 situation, the scientists presented their research online, but in an unconventional way of tandem presentations. The core idea of this style was to form duets of Japanese and European researchers who would cross-present each other’s research in a flash talk of 5-10 min in total. This format promoted exchanging and discussion with the partner before the symposium and highlighted each other’s work and scientific contributions in a nice way. The Book of Abstracts of all participants is found here.

In the symposium, a wide variety of cutting-edge topics of catalysis science were introduced and discussed. The Chairmen Fischer and Kitagawa gave a message with positive expectation in the closing remarks, “We hope that this symposium will be a foothold to build an international network, and successfully lead to joint research. Furthermore, we are looking forward to meet again on the real CSQV conference after the COVID-19 will converge.”

Shigeyoshi Inoue receives the DFG Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize

Shigeyoshi Inoue is one of four researchers who receive the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize 2020 for his contributions to both academic and cultural exchange between Germany and Japan.

For more information see the official DFG presse release and Prof. Inoue's webpage.

Roland A. Fischer receives funding from the Reinhart-Koselleck program of the DFG

Roland A. Fischer has been awarded with funding by the prestigeous Reinhart-Koselleck program of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project "Living Libraries of Intermetallic Superatoms - LIBRIS" aims at the synthesis of catalytically active intermetallic clusters in the sub-nanometer range, with special regards to control over formation growth and composition of such clusters.

For more information, see:

"Superatoms as Catalysts" - the official TUM press release

Information on the Reinhart-Koselleck program of the DFG

Webpage of the Fischer group and twitter account

Thorsten Bach recieves the DFG Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award 2020

The German Research Foundation (DFG) recognizes his groud-breaking research on organic photochemistry with particular emphasis on light-induced enantioselective catalysis.

For more information, see the links:

The official DFG press release

The webpage of the TUM Department of Chemistry

The Bach webpage and twitter account

Directed synthesis of a complex metal oxide with high activity

Design of highly active Mo-V-Te-Nb oxide catalyst for ODH is made possible by understanding the formation of active surfaces

MoVTeNb oxide catalysts are used for ethylene production via ethane oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH). Maricruz Sanchez-Sanchez and Johannes A. Lercher at the CRC work on the optimization of this type of materials for an industrial application, in collaboration with Clariant AG in the frame of the MuniCat alliance.

In situ electron microscopy studies at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in collaboration with Nigel Browning and Yuanyuan Zhu have yielded the atomic description of the active surface of a metal oxide catalyst and its dynamic response under reaction conditions. These studies, combined with reaction kinetics measured at the CRC, provided a direct relationship between the atomic configuration of the surface of an oxide and its catalytic activity. This level of understanding has enabled the researchers to design a new synthetic approach that proved successful in generating highly active metal oxides. This work has been published in September 2019 in Nature Communications.

Collaborative CRC work on ultrasmall Pt clusters for the ORR

Ultrasmall Pt clusters derived from Pt@MOF materials for the oxygen reduction

The electrocatalytic oxygen reduction (ORR) using a platinum catalyst is considered as the key to many energy applications, such as fuel cell technologies. In a joint effort the teams of Aliaksandr Bandarenka, Roland A. Fischer and Sebastian Günther from the CRC, Alessio Gagliardi from the TUM Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Jan Macák from the CEITEC in Brno (Czech Republic) have achieved a breakthrough in preparing ultrasmall Pt clusters with optimal size for the efficient electrocatalytic ORR in proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells by combining theory and experiment. The results were published online on June 5, 2019 in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

By utilizing a simple computational model, the mass activity of Pt clusters for ORR was predicted. The forecasted activities were affirmed with the experimental results for 1.1 nm sized Pt clusters, which were obtained by decomposition of Pt clusters embedded in the zeolitic imidazolate framework ZIF-8. The obteined Pt clusters exhibit a mass activity of 0.87 A mgPt-1 , which is one of the highest mass activities reported to date.