Novel catalytic materials with specific active site are developed. Design criteria for improved catalysts are derived from comparative activity test and characterization of existing catalysts.
Efficient catalyst design requires adequate assessment of the properties of catalytic materials. This includes knowledge of the strength and concentration of acid or base sites, composition and size of metal particles, porosity and surface area as well as the crystallinity of active materials. These properties are probed by a variety of physico-chemical techniques, including IR and NMR spectroscopy, adsorption of probe molecules, XRD and TEM. In general, we characterize catalysts as close to operation conditions as possible. This includes modifications of existing analytical tools.
Interactions of reactants, intermediates and products with the surface of heterogeneous catalysts are studied by a variety of spectroscopic techniques. Ideally, these measurements are performed in-situ. A particular challenge is studying reaction in liquid phase because the signals from surface bound species have to be distinguished from liquid state reactants and products. Based on the data from these experiments we identify reaction pathways and derive design criteria for the next generation of heterogeneous catalysts.
While fundamental research is a major focus of our research, the ultimate goal is to develop new processes for sustainable supply of fuels and chemicals. Flow reactor systems are designed for specific reactions. Whenever possible, the design will include automation and online sampling. With these systems we investigate the reaction kinetics, the influence of the reaction condition, and the stability of the catalyst. Whenever necessary, catalyst deactivation is studied so that an efficient regeneration procedure can be applied.