Ben List in conversation with science journalist Mai-Thi Nguyen-Kim

Fascinating talk at the annual meeting of the Max Planck Society.

July 13, 2022

During the annual meeting, the Max Planck Society had science journalist Mai-Thi Nguyen-Kim interview our director Benjamin List. The interview can now be found on Youtube.

"Let's start in general terms: What is catalysis?" the young woman on stage wants to know. In Berlin, science journalist and chemist Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim spoke with Kofo director and Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Benjamin List about catalysts - those for which he has received the Nobel Prize, but also those that had a lasting impact on his private life: Among other things, it was about List's early experiments in his home lab, but also about the big questions of the future for which catalysis is needed.

"Catalysis is the science of accelerating chemical reactions," List explained.  But to be honest, catalysts made chemical reactions possible in the first place, he continued. The appealing thing about catalysis, he said, is that catalysts are not consumed in a reaction itself.

The economic importance of catalysis also came up in the talk, which took place as part of the annual meeting of the Max Planck Society. Up to one third of the world's gross national product is generated with the help of catalysis. On the one hand, of course, this applies to industrial processes such as the production of plastics or fuels. Ben List emphasized, however, that in his view the big questions of the future can only be answered with the help of catalysis. Only the starting material is different, he said. "Then we just don't start with crude oil, but we start with CO2," List said.

The complete interview (German) can be seen on Youtube.

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