Catalysts for industrial use

Whether as a component of fuel cells, as a key to the material utilization of CO2 or as an instrument for gas purification – catalysts are indispensable for many industrial processes. With their help, harmful emissions can be reduced and chemical products can be manufactured in a resource-conserving and energy-efficient manner. To work on a small scale as well as in industrial plants, the formulation must be right and fit the respective technical application. This is where the scientists of Fraunhofer UMSICHT come in...

From catalyst testing to catalyst preparation: Solutions and services of Fraunhofer UMSICHT

We support research institutions and companies in testing and screening catalysts. In other words, we look at existing material and investigate how it reacts under process-relevant conditions. This is currently being done, for example, as part of the Carbon2Chem® joint project.

Another focus of our work is the preparation of catalysts. Here, too, we generally work with material provided to us by partners or customers. We can synthesize a wide range of catalyst formulations both on a gram scale and by stepwise scale-up in the kilogram range. We can then produce individually shaped catalysts from the corresponding catalyst powder – whether in bulk, honeycomb or pellet form – and test them again under conditions close to the application.

Last but not least, we are active in the development of catalysts. In the project "ElkaSyn", for example, we are working with partners from industry and research on a single-stage process for the electrochemical production of methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol from CO2 and water. System components for a high-pressure and a normal-pressure process are being developed. Among them are porous gas diffusion electrodes in which gases are in contact with an electron-conducting, possibly catalyst-activated solid as well as an electrolyte solution and are converted.

On the way to suitable catalysts: Many options thanks to modern equipment

In order to provide these solutions and services at a high level, we have modern and comprehensive laboratory and pilot plant equipment. Our equipment and services include:

  • Electrocatalyst test benches
  • An 8-fold parallel reactor for screening heterogeneous catalysts
  • Three test rigs for heterogeneous catalysis (Tmax = 500 °C at p = 60 bar and Tmax = 1000 °C at p = 1 bar)
  • Precipitation plants for catalyst synthesis (up to 20 l)
  • An extruder for shaping ceramic masses
  • Stirred batch reactors for catalyst testing
  • Tests of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts in the stirred tank
  • Gas/liquid, liquid/liquid reactions
  • Test stands with volumes of 15 ml, 0.5 l,1 l, 2 l, up to 20 l
  • Continuous sampling possible
  • Reactions up to 400 °C and 300 bar possible
  • Special corrosion-resistant materials and automated process control
  • Reaction calorimeter and stirred tank cascade
  • Examples: Hydrogenation reactions, esterifications, oxidation reactions, dehydrations

This is how cooperation with us works

We see ourselves as a link between academic research and industry in order to transfer innovative and promising catalytic materials and processes into technical applications. Cooperation is possible both within the framework of publicly funded research projects and in the form of direct commissioning. 

Reference projects on "Catalysts for industrial use"


Synthesis of 1,3-butadiene from ethanol in an ohmic reactor

To demonstrate the use of an ohmic reactor with functionalized, electrically conductive catalyst molded bodies – this is the objective of the joint work of Fraunhofer ISC, Fraunhofer ITWM and Fraunhofer UMSICHT. The aim is to develop new resource- and energy-efficient synthesis routes for the chemical industry. 



Energy-efficient electrosynthesis of alcohols

Power-to-x processes are needed to use CO2 as a sustainable raw material. ElkaSyn therefore focuses on a one-step process in which carbon dioxide and water are converted to methanol, ethanol, propanol and butanol.



Precious metal-free catalyst for methane oxidation

To develop a precious metal reduced or precious metal free catalyst for the oxidation of methane – this was the aim of the IMOKAT project. The focus was also on shaping it into a honeycomb catalyst for technical use.



By catalysis from ethanol to butadiene

In the "Power2C4" work package, a power-to-x process for the production of butadiene and other C4-olefins is being developed. As an alternative, safe and affordable concept, it should contribute to a climate-friendly energy supply system.


Carbon2Chem® subproject L-II

Dynamic Methanol Production from Steel Mill Gases

The aim is the concrete elaboration of the process concepts developed in the first project period for the production of methanol from the coupling gases of the smelter. A special focus is on the scale-up from the laboratory to the pilot plant in the technical shop.


Carbon2Chem® subproject L-III

Synthesis Gas

The aim is to demonstrate the robustness of the concepts already developed for the purification of steel mill gases, the synthesis of various chemicals and, in particular, for system integration. By the end of the second project period, an industrial implementation should be feasible.


Carbon2Chem® subproject L-IV

Higher Alcohols

The focus is on the development of an overall catalytic process for the direct conversion of upgraded coupled gas to short-chain alcohols, olefins and synthetic fuels. This process is then to be developed to demonstration maturity.