The technical laboratories consist of the central high pressure and large scale synthesis facilities of the institute. The reactor designs are developed and manufactured in cooperation with the institute's workshop. Large scale synthesis facilities are available for reactions in glass vessels up to 200 L. Furthermore, a standard set of purified and/or dried and deoxygenated solvents (about 1.000 L per month) are continuously provided for all groups. Another focus lies in the disposal of chemical waste with an annual quantity of about 23 tons.
Compressed and especially supercritical carbon dioxide is a technically well established solvent for analytical chromatography and large scale extractions. The extraction of caffeine from green coffee beans was developed by Dr. Kurt Zosel at the Technikum of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in the late sixties and is nowadays used worldwide for the production of more than 100.000 t decaffeinated coffee per year. Most recently scCO2 has found considerable and ever increasing interest also as an environmentally friendly alternative solvent for chemical synthesis. Current research efforts at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung are mainly devoted to the utilization of scCO2 as solvent for catalytic processes.
The diminishing fossil fuel reserves and the negative impacts of anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions on the environment force us to implement renewable energy sources in a short time frame. Cellulose-containing biomaterials, which might originate from residues of food production or are ubiquitary and unintersting for current industry applications, are promising feedstocks for fuel production. As a participant of the DFG excellence cluster “Tailor-Made Fuels from biomass” we are dealing with the development of efficient nano-catalysts for transformation of D-glucose (the monomer of cellulose) into fuel precursor molecules such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, levulinic acid or γ-valerolactone.
The separation of highly dispersed catalysts and their recycling from liquid-phase transformations are often critical with respect to recovery rates and preservation of the catalytic activity. In such reactions magnetically separable supports allow a matchless easy and gentle isolation procedure of catalytically active components. Currently, we are investigating the suitability of polyoxometalates which are attached to ferrit cores as catalysts for the olefin epoxidation with hydrogen peroxide.
Quite a large number of employees are involved in health and safety at work issues. Beside the line executives, as many as 31 appointees for different hazards and six authorized persons with well-defined inspection duties are contributing to that field in form of a sideline job. The activities are coordinated and controled by the safety commissioner of the institute, Dr. N. Theyssen. The targets are arranged quarterly with the managing director, Prof. Dr. A. Fürstner, and the health and safety committee. In quite a large number of these activities, our health and safety officer, Mrs. I. Sahm, is involved in a profound manner. Her substitute, Mr. L. Winkel, is responsible for the central documentation. Our external company physician, Dr. med. J.-H. Bolle, consults the institute in all questions dealing with occupational medizine and carries out corresponding examinations.
The institute is also well-positioned in the area of emergency organization. More than 50 first-aiders, 31 evacuation officers, 21 firemen (twelve of them are skilled in the usage of compressed air breathing apparatus) and one paramedic, Mrs. N.-J. Schrader, support our institute voluntarily. In addition an important assistance is provided by three co-workers from building services, the four members of the on-call service and two certified electricians.
Dr. Orzechowski, Lars
Dipl.-Ing. Said, Nesrine
Dr. Theyssen, Nils
Dr. Yan, Kai