CatLab – Catalysis Laboratory
Climate change mitigation demands a rapid large-scale defossilation of our energy system, necessitating a drastic expansion of renewable energy, and the development of alternative, sustainably produced chemical energy carriers.
Those are essential for long-term energy storage, a key enabler for the transformation of the mobility and industrial sectors. The success of the energy transition in Germany and Europe hinges on the ability to store and import substantial amounts of the required total energy, as synthetic chemical energy carriers, which is integrated into a European hydrogen market.
The main objective of this project is the development of new types of catalysts to ensure efficient conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy.
However, three core challenges have to be tackled to achieve CO2-neutral energy systems that are based on renewable electricity as a primary energy source on a global scale:
Accelerated expansion of generation of renewable electricity
Sustainable hydrogen production
Long-distance transport and storage of hydrogen using synthetic energy carriers
Energy-efficient conversions into synthetic fuels and basic chemicals
To meet these challenges innovative chemical conversion processes based on new tailor-made (chemical, electrical and photo) catalysts have to developed and rolled out on an industrial scale. Each catalyst must contain a combination of multifunctional materials that are manufactured in a controlled process.
Multidisciplinary research in physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering and data science will be essential for the successful design and manufacturing of new catalysts
Fields of activity
The initial focus with regard to the field of application of the novel thin film catalysts will be on the endothermic release of hydrogen from hydrocarbons and its immediate further reaction with CO or CO2 to form long-chain alcohols. This requires the research and development of functional thin-film systems that are adapted to the respective reactions. The close proximity to the synchrotron source BESSY II and the laboratories with their various analysis and characterization options allows short feedback loops. The development of these new catalyst systems is supported by the methods of digital catalysis, the computer-aided modeling of complex catalyst-reaction-reactor systems. Chemical reactors required for the use of the new catalysts are planned, built and operated in various configurations jointly by MPG and
In addition, the involvement of large companies from the very beginning of the project will cover the entire innovation chain and generate added value for Berlin and Germany in general.
Project duration and funding
The project begins with a five-year start-up phase. CatLab will be funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with about 51 million euros as part of the National Hydrogen Strategy in addition to considerable contributions by the participants themselves.
Location and building
HU Research Building:
In the initial phase, CatLab will be located i.a. in the IRIS research building of the Humboldt University in Berlin (HUB) at the Adlershof site (https://www.iris-adlershof.de/de/forschungsbau.html). The “Inorganic Chemistry” department of the Fritz Haber Institute is relocating a large part of its work to this building. Since the use of space in the IRIS laboratory building of the HUB will be limited in time and space, the HZB must create alternative spaces on the Adlershof campus
Neues Gebäude in Adlershof
A new innovative office space and laboratories in a dedicated building connect seamlessly with our Innovation Center and Data Science platform. (→ Architectural competition CatLab building)