Mechanical energy input can drive chemical reactions. The group studies such mechanochemical reactions by using different types of ball mills. Goals are the development of different methods for catalyst synthesis on the one hand, on the other hand it is possible to increase the rate of catalytic reactions by several orders of magnitude if the catalyst is milled during reaction. For instance, milling macroscopic metal powder with a support material can lead to supported nanometer-sized metal particles, in some cases even with structures, which are otherwise difficult of impossible to synthesize. Another finding is the synthesis of α-alumina from boehmite in ball mills, with nanoparticulate alumina with a surface area of more than 100 m2/g. If a catalytic reaction is carried out in a flow-through milling vessel, in which the catalyst is ball-milled during the reaction, the reaction rate can increase by several orders of magnitude, as compared to the reaction without mechanical activation – impressively demonstrated by the possibility to produce ammonia from the elements at atmospheric pressure and room temperature. The current work is on the one hand directed at understanding the key processes during ball milling, on the other hand, further mechanocatalytic reactions are explored, such as the depolymerization of polymers.
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