Energy & Environment
Prof. Robert Francke
Dr. Henrik Junge

Topic 05 deals with basic and applied research aimed at enabling a circular economy and securing clean resources for future generations. To this end, the research work focuses on three main lines of research. 

'Utilization of renewable energy for chemical production', e.g. in electrochemical or photocatalytic processes, bundles research efforts on hydrogen production, its storage and reconversion into electrical energy. This includes H2 production from renewable resources and its storage in small energy-rich molecules such as methanol and formic acid under mild conditions, as well as the photoand electrocatalytic splitting of water and reduction of CO2.
Another focus is on the 'reintroduction of greenhouse gases into chemical production'. Various research approaches of Topic 05 are dedicated to CO2, which is considered a climate gas and is thermodynamically stable, as a potential raw material.
Using suitable catalysts and reaction conditions, it can be converted to methanol, which in turn canbe used as a CO2-neutral fuel or energy storage medium. The reaction of CO2 with the greenhouse gas methane CH4 in dry reforming is also the subject of intensive research. The synthesis gas (H2/CO) produced in this process is relevant for numerous industrial processes.
Another focus of Topic 05 is on the 'purification of exhaust gas streams', e.g. of NOx, and 'wastewater', e.g. of organic substances that are difficult to degrade. The selective catalytic reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) with ammonia at low temperatures (NH3-SCR) is a promising method for removing the toxic gases from exhaust gases. At the same time, influences of other components, such as formaldehyde, on the catalyst‘s mode of action are also being investigated. The close collaboration of different research groups with expertise in catalytic testing, in situ/operando FTIR and EPR spectroscopy as well as transient studies with temporal resolution enables detailed fi ndings in this context, which form the basis for knowledge-based catalyst design. Hardly degradable inorganic and organic compounds in wastewater, e.g. from pharmaceuticals, can be heterogeneously photocatalytically degraded using UV and visible light.