Tuesday, February 7, 2012

UniCat Cluster of Excellence and BASF establish joint lab on raw material change

On December 8, 2011, the Cluster of Excellence “Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) and the chemical company BASF SE signed a cooperation agreement establishing a new joint lab dedicated to the development of new catalytic processes for raw material change. The move promotes the search for alternatives to petroleum, in particular the use of natural gas. The long term goal is to ensure the continued future availability of raw materials for the production of chemicals.

BASF SE and Technische Universität Berlin are putting substantial resources into setting up the UniCat-BASF Joint Lab. BASF plans to invest up to €6.4 million during the first five years. The total volume amounts to about €13 million. Twelve postdocs and postgrads will do research in the 900 square meter lab. Installation of equipment for catalyst synthesis, characterization and testing starts in January 2012.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Steinbach , President of TU Berlin, commented: “The UniCat-BASF Joint Lab will strengthen Campus Charlottenburg’s science base. The new lab is an important element in the latest round of the competition for excellence.”

Dr. Friedrich Seitz , head of the BASF Competence Center Chemicals Research and Engineering, stressed the alliance’s strategic importance: “Natural gas, carbon dioxide and biomass can replace petroleum as raw materials for the chemical industry in the future. Before that happens, a number of challenges remain to be solved. The joint lab helps us to pursue multidisciplinary approaches in catalysis for raw material change, especially when it comes to activating less reactive molecules,” he explained.

“The establishment of the ‚UniCat-BASF Joint Lab will bring the scientific results of our research alliance to fruition more quickly for industrial use,” said Prof. Dr. Matthias Drieß , chair of the UniCat Cluster of Excellence.

“The ‘UniCat-BASF Joint Lab’ not only creates new jobs, it also inspires new ideas for cooperative ventures with internationally leading companies in raw material change and sustainable chemistry,” commented undersecretary of state Dr. Knut Nevermann ,  Berlin Senate Department of Education, Youth Affairs and Science.

A number of UniCat teams have been instrumental in the success of the project. The “UniCat-BASF Joint Lab“ is to be assigned a steering committee made up of UniCat chair Prof. Dr. Matthias Drieß, Fritz Haber Institute representative Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl, and the head of the BASF Competence Center Chemicals Research and Engineering, Dr. Friedrich Seitz.

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