Development, optimization and screening of heterogenous catalysts

Heterogenous catalysts for energy conversion applications

Due to the daily and seasonal differences between the availability and consumption of regenerative energy, new energy storage scenarios are under intensive R&D. Methanol is a versatile chemical base material. It also plays an increasingly important role as an energy source for the energy turnaround.

Two catalyst synthesis processes have been optimized for the synthesis of methanol from carbon dioxide and electrolytically produced hydrogen. Various reactor systems are available for the subsequent screening of the catalysts with regard to their performance.

Catalyst synthesis and optimization

Overview catalyst synthesis

  • Diverse synthesis methods
  • Coprecipitation
  • Deep eutectic solvents
  • Electrochemical deposition
  • Hydrothermal and solvothermal synthesis


Optimization of heterogeneous methanol synthesis from CO2 and electrolytically produced hydrogen

According to the state of the art, catalysts for methanol synthesis are produced from copper-containing solutions by coprecipitation over several intermediate stages. With the aim of saving energy, time and resources in this catalyst synthesis on an industrial scale, the process was optimized for continuous operation at the BioCat unit of Fraunhofer IGB (patent pending).

Another innovative method for catalyst synthesis is based on the dissolution of metal compounds in deep eutectic solvents, followed by carbonization (WO2016/180973A1).

Screening of heterogeneous catalysts in gas phase reactions

The screening of catalysts for heterogeneous reactions is performed in four parallel units each for batch experiments and continuous operation in high throughput.

Two reactor systems are available for the screening of heterogeneous catalysts in gas phase reactions.


Multi-purpose screening system

A multi-purpose screening system with four parallel reactor tubes and on-line GC-MS analytics has been acquired. The gas dosing enables using technically relevant syngas mixtures with various CO/CO2/H2/H2O ratios. The system makes possible the high throughput screening over catalysts and reaction conditions. It also allows evaluating the long-term stability of the catalysts under the optimal operation conditions and to quantitatively collect and analyze the liquid products. The design makes it also possible to carry out various other reactions including methanization, Fischer Tropsch synthesis, and chemical conversion of methanol to olefins or liquid fuels as well as ammonia synthesis.


Single-tube system

A single-tube system for catalytic testing at atmospheric pressure was designed and built. Two operating sizes are available, with maximum 1 g and 50 g catalyst loading, respectively. The system enables the investigation of reaction cascades such as methanol synthesis coupled to the methanol-to-olefin process.