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Heterogeneous Catalysis

The work of the group is concentrated on the synthesis and characterization of inorganic materials with an application focus in heterogeneous catalysis. Especially important are high surface area materials with controlled porosity and nanostructured catalysts. Reactions studied include model reactions, such as CO oxidation, and energy relevant conversions, i.e. methane activation, biomass conversion, ammonia decomposition and catalyzed hydrogen storage. This research is supported by studies into the fundamental processes governing solids formation.

Ferdi Schüth

Prof. Dr. Ferdi Schüth

Since 2014
Vicepresident of the Max-Planck-Society
Since 1998
Director at the MPI für Kohlenforschung
Professor at the Frankfurt University
Visiting Assistent Professor Santa Barbara (G. D. Stucky)
Habilitation Mainz (K. Unger)
State Examination Law
Post-Doc Minneapolis (L. D. Schmidt)
PhD Münster (E. Wicke)
Born in Allagen, now Warstein, Germany
Honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Munich
Carl-Friedrich-von-Weizsäcker Award
Chemial-Engineering-Medal of the ETH Zürich (CH)
Wilhelm-Klemm Award of the GDCh
Hamburg Science Award
Wöhler-Award for resource-saving processes
Ruhrpreis für Kunst und Wissenschaft
Nominated for the Future Award of Germany (Deutscher Zukunftspreis)
Elected member of the Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste
Heisenberg-Medaille of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
European Research Council Advanced Grant
Guest Professor at the University of Beijing, China
Elected member of the National Academy of Science Leopoldina
Honorary Professor of Dalian University of Technology, China
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Preis of the Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Elected member of acatech (German Academy of Engineering)
Award of the Stifterverbandes der Deutschen Wissenschaft
Honorary Professor of the "Ruhuniversität" of Bochum
Scholarship for postdoctoral studies of the Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Boehringer-Ingelheim Award
since 1990
continuous supports by the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie
Award for outstanding PhD work, Universität Münster
Scholarship of the Cusanuswerks
since 2014
Vice-President of the Max-Planck-Society
since 2013
Chairman of the selection committee of the award "Deutscher Zukunftspreis"
since 2012
Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Max-Planck-Society
Member of the selection committee of the award "Deutscher Zukunftspreis" (German Future Award)
since 2011
Member of the selection committee of the Award "Otto-Bayer-Preis"
since 2010
Member of the Board of Trustees of the "Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung" (Federal Institute for Materialresearch and -testing)
since 2010
Member of the University Council of the University in Oldenburg
Member of the Board of Trustees of the "Forschungs- und Wissenschaftsstiftung Hamburg"
since 2009
Vice-Chairman of Dechema
Chairman of the selection committee of the "Communicator" Award of the DFG
Vice-Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Max-Planck-Society
Member of the foundation board of directors of KIT (Institut of Technology Karlsruhe)
Vice-President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
since 2007
Member of the University Council of the Unisersity to Duisburg and Essen
since 2007
Member of the Editorial Board of "Advances in Catalysis"
since 2006
Member of the Advisory Board of "Chemistry - An Asian Journal"
since 2006
Editor of "Chemistry of Materials"
since 2005
Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of "Chemical Engineering & Technology"
since 2005
Chairman of the Investment Committee of "Life Science, Materials and Energy" of the German High-Tech Fund
since 2004
Member of the Editorial Board of "Chemical Communications"
Member of the Board of Govenors of the GDCh
Member of the scientific committee of the State of Niedersachsen
Chairman of the Dechema Research Committee "Chemical Reaction Engineering"
Member of the Board of Trustees of the Unisersity to Duisburg and Essen
since 2003
Member of the International Expert Commission "Elitenetzwerk Bayern"
since 2003
Member of the Editorial Board QSAR-Combinatorial Science
Chairman of the Selectional Committee of the Alexander von Humboldt Award
Member of the DFG Senate Commission for SFB
Managing Director of the MPI für Kohlenforschung
Member of the IMMA-Council
Member of the Selectional Committee of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz-Award
since 2001
Coordinator of the Key Program "Nanoporous Crystals" of the DFG
since 2001
Chairman of the IZA commission of "Mesoporous Materials"
Member of the IZA-Council
Member of the Editorial Board of "Chemistry of Materials"
Member of Selectional Committee of the Humboldt Award
since 2000
Member of the Dechema Board of Governors
Member of the Board of Trustees of "Nachrichten aus der Chemie"
since 1999
Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of directors of the company "hte" (since BASF majority acquisition: member) and of the Scientific Advisory Board
1998 - 2005
Vice-Chairman of the Dechema Fachausschuß "Zeolithe"
since 1998
Member of the Editorial Board of "Advanced Materials"
since 1996
Member of the Editorial Board "Microporous Materials"
Member of the technical committee of Dechema for "Microreactiontechniques"
Member of the technical committee of Dechema for "Zeolithe"
Coordinator of the program of DFG for "Nanoporous Crystals"
Managing director of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Frankfurt
Member of the technical committee of Dechema "Heterogene Katalyse"

Research Topics

High-Throughput-Methods in Catalysis
High-Throughput-Methods in Catalysis

High-Throughput-Methods in Catalysis

High throughput methods in heterogeneous catalysis have been introduced at the end of the 1990s. The development was triggered by related techniques which are used in the pharmaceutical industry. One characteristic feature of high throughput approaches is massive parallelization of time consuming process steps. Our group is active in the development of methodologies for high throughput experimentation in heterogeneous catalysis. A major fraction of the catalysis setups in the group is parallelized. While initially the development of the experimental techniques was in the focus of our work, these lines of research are now pursued in a company which was spun out early on and which supplies industrial high-throughput solutions ( The group is still active in the development of specific techniques and artificial intelligence methods which support the catalyst discovery process.

Nanostructured Catalysts
Nanostructured Catalysts

Nanostructured Catalysts

Solid catalysts are often structured on the nanoscale. Various methods are available to achieve such nanostructuring, including different templating pathways. The combination of high surface area support materials and pre-formed nanoparticles provides a highly flexible access to nanostructured catalysts. We use a wide range of different nanoparticles to synthesize high activity supported catalysts, for instance for ultra-low temperature CO oxidation. Elaborate procedures are used for the synthesis of core-shell systems, in which single metal nanoparticles are encapsulated in hollow spheres. Since the nanoparticles are effectively isolated from each other, sintering is effectively prevented.

Design of Meso- and Microporous Solids
Design of Meso- and Microporous Solids

Design of Meso- and Microporous Solids

Mesoporous solids have pores in the size range between 2 and 50 nm, microporous materials pores below 2 nm. A multitude of different micro- and mesoporous solids is known, such as silica gels or activated carbons. The activities of the group in this research area are predominantly directed towards the synthesis of micro- and mesoporous materials with ordered pore system. For the synthesis of such materials two different processes can be used: On the one hand the materials can be structured by the use of so-called templates, i.e molecules, as in zeolite synthesis, or ordered arrays of molecules in form of liquid crystals. On the other hand structuring is possible via the so called „nanocasting“, i.e. a preformed pore system is used as a mold for another material in a process which resembles a casting procedure on the macroscale.

Nucleation and Crystal Growth
Nucleation and Crystal Growth

Nucleation and Crystal Growth

The initial stages of solids formation from solution are very elusive processes, and the “birth” of a solid particle, the nucleation, is almost impossible to detect. One the other hand, nucleation has important consequences on the properties of the particles which are obtained as the end result of a precipitation reaction As solution based synthetic procedures are of very high importance in the synthesis of solid catalysts, part of the activities of the department are devoted to the study of fundamental aspects of nucleation processes. A rather versatile method for such studies is mass spectrometry. ESI mass spectrometry techniques are being developed to obtain insight in the processes occurring in zeolite synthesis solutions. It has been found that immediately before solids formation, structural elements of the zeolites are already present as solution species. These technqiues are extended to other systems.

Hydrogen Storage Materials
Hydrogen Storage Materials

Hydrogen Storage Materials

Hydrogen Storage is one of the key problems for the implementation of a hydrogen energy economy. Solid hydrides are possible alternatives to pressure or liquid hydrogen storage. After titanium doped NaAlH4 had been developed to a state that reaction kinetics of this reversible hydride are sufficiently fast for technical applications, work is now extended to the synthesis of other potential storage materials with higher capacities. Because many principally possible complex hydrides are not known as yet, an exploratory program has been initiated to search for such materials. The capabilities of the group include high pressure (up to 1000 bar) / low temperature synthesis, various systems for mechanical activation, and extended in-situ capabilities for the study of the hydrogenation/dehydrogenation reactions.

Biomass Conversion
Biomass Conversion

Biomass Conversion

Due to the expected depletion of fossil fuels, alternatives are required for the supply of our societies with fuels and alternative feedstocks for chemical production. Different types of biomass are suitable for this, but lignocellulose is the preferred option, since there is no competition with food and feed. Work in the group is focussed on the depolymerization of cellulose and further conversion of the resulting sugars. Porous functionalized polymers are in the focus of the catalyst development, since due to their versatility they can in principle ideally be tuned to the requirements of the aqueous phase processing of biomass.



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