Power-based Fuels and Chemicals

The subtopic addresses the conversion of the low-energy molecules CO2, H2O and N2 with renewable electrical energy as well as renewable or waste heat into high-energy chemical fuels and feedstocks for industry. This way the subtopic will contribute to a defossilization of the transport sector and the industrial sector. The CO2 may originate from different sources which are jointly evaluated together with researchers from Topic 5. Given the desired reduction of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions, thin air or waste biomass are preferred choices. However, CO2 from unavoidable industrial sources such as cement production, steel making, and waste incineration is considered as well. We strive for advancing the scientific knowledge in catalysis, electrocatalysis and plasma chemistry both with a view to activation of CO2, H2O and N2 and efficient catalytic processes for synthesis of high-quality fuels and chemicals from its products. The scope includes high-temperature mixed ionic-electronic conductor (MIEC)-based ceramic membrane reactors, which hold potential for improving various conversion steps. Catalytic technologies for the loading and unloading of liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs) and a direct use of hydrogenated LOHCs in fuel cells are in focus as well. High-performing catalysts and electrocatalysts showing high activity and selectivity and long lifetime even under dynamic load are targeted. Similarly, highly permeable and stable membranes are pursued.

Simple, efficient and reliable process technologies, capable of dynamic operation will be developed, scaled-up, and demonstrated on system level in real technical environments together with key partners from industry and society. Special emphasis is on intensified process technologies with modular design. Disruptive approaches to the fabrication of compact process units will be taken, e.g. additive manufacturing, to achieve high performance, reliability in operation, and cost-effective digitized fabrication. The scope includes the design and study of entire power-to-molecules process chains with vast integration of material and heat flows between process units to achieve a high overall energy efficiency. Both solutions for large-scale implementation and compact systems for decentralized applications will be pursued where operational flexibility is needed in addition to high efficiency and acceptable cost. The subtopic strives for rapid implementation of modular power-to-molecules technologies with high technology readiness level (TRL) by teaming up with innovative industrial partners. Two spin-off companies INERATEC GmbH (KIT) and Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg) as well as other visionary start-up’s and their allies are key partners for commercialization. At the same time, high-risk approaches at lower TRLs with high potential gain will be fundamentally investigated and purposefully further developed.



Generic paths for synthesis of fuels & chemicals

...from renewable power and carbon dioxide, nitrogen & water

Generic paths for synthesis of fuels and chemicals from renewable power and carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water

Main themes are...

  • Modular integrated plants
  • Conversion of CO/CO2-rich syngas
  • Direct electrochemical synthesis (Electocatalysis beyond hydrogen)
  • Plasma reactors / Plasma activation of inert molecules
  • H2-Safety of decentralized modular plants
  • Technologies for LOHC - Liquid organic hydrogen carriers

We work in the above six thematic groups. This enables scientific exchange and joint cooperation across institutes and Helmholtz centers. To strengthen networking between the Helmholtz partners, joint workshops are held regularly.

Selected Projects | Project Archive

We engage in collaborative research projects with academic & industrial partners. Thus, we transfer knowledge into application, strengthen networking & talent management.

Electrification of technical organic syntheses (ETOS), ETOS future cluster Electroorganic synthesis - from research to industry
Clusters4Future - ETOS: Electrification of technical organic syntheses 04/23-03/26

Electroorganic synthesis - from research to industry: IAM-ET:  Joint pool of electrode materials and electrolysis cells (Pool Mazel); IMVT: Development and analysis of a large-scale electrolyzer for long-term operation (EAGLE); BMBF website, KIT-news

UP-TO-ME is an EU funded project that targets a ground-breaking change in decentralised Power-to-Methanol production for hard to electrify applications, like marine vessels.
Unmanned-Power-to-Methanol-production | UP-TO-ME 11/22-10/25

UP-TO-ME is an EU funded project that targets a ground-breaking change in decentralised Power-to-Methanol production for hard to electrify applications, like marine vessels. Grant number: 101083323

Joint project CARE-o-SENE: Catalyst research for sustainable aviation fuels; sub-project: Synthesis of model catalysts and operando characterization methods
CARE-o-SENE | Catalyst research for sustainable aviation fuels 09/22-08/25

Synthesis of model catalysts and operando characterization methods. Basic energy research (BMBF) Grant: 03SF0673B; Partner: KIT IKFT, HZB, FH IKTS, Sasol Germany, INERATEC, KIT IIP, R&D Center FH Kiel

Care-O-SENE website

Visit our Labs!

3D printing laboratory & Fischer Tropsch synthesis plant
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Assessing the role of Direct Air Capture in a carbon neutral worldPexels
Workshop @KickOff of the Reseach Field Energy

Assessing the role of Direct Air Capture in a carbon neutral world: The workshop shall establish a basic understanding of the major DAC technologies and their differences...

Helmholtz-Workshop: July 2, 2021

Helmholtz Workshop CO2 Electroconversion 2021
6th July 2021 | The Helmholtz Workshop CO2 Electroconversion

aims to present the scope of research in our different groups, share both knowledge & experiences and initiate opportunities for networking & co-operation between Helmholtz Centers.

Transfer of Knowledge and Technology

We share and transfer knowledge and technology to the public, experts, politics, administration and the business world.

Workshop: Technical Nanocatalysts in IndustryKIT
Workshop: Technical Nanocatalysts in Industry

7 May 2021: Nanocat's role & potentials for CO2 savings & energy efficiency was discussed in the workshop of the Research Network Energy with stakeholders of the innovation system: academia, industry, associations, and policymakers.

Spin-off Ineratec
Innovative Chemical Reactor Technologies

Modular chemical plants for Gas-to-Liquid, Power-to-Gas & Power-to-Liquid processes producing CO2 neutral fuels for mobility, storage of "green" energy & decentralized production of chemicals: INERATEC

EE4InG | Accompanying research of the BMWi Research Network Energy

The objective of the project is to identify key innovations of energy-efficient solutions and to network them in their different application areas within the BMWi Research Network Energy.

EE4InG website
Expert Workshop on 3D Printing for Process Industry
Exploiting Efficiency Potential of 3D Printing in Process Industry

Workshop of industry, science & policy makers about innovative products & technical solutions reducing energy consumption & CO2 emissions.

EE4InG website
Girls Day 2021
Girls Day 2021 - On April 22!

We offer girls from 8th grade onwards exciting insights into our work & labs: Fuels from air & green energy @IMVT, H2 a sustainable energy storage @ITCP/IKFT, Battery empty?! @BTC

more@Girls' Day Radar


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Journal Articles
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Journal Articles