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Cluster of Excellence UniCat

Catalysts made to measure - Unifying Concepts in Catalysis

Prof. Dr. Matthias Driess
Spokesperson for the cluster of excellence, Prof. Dr. Matthias Driess, at the UniCat inaugural ceremony in May 2008

“Protect the environment and save energy” - this is what society is now demanding from modern chemical research. Fuels for automobiles and airplanes should burn as cleanly as possible and drug substances such as antibiotics need to be adjusted for the various areas of application within the human body. Catalysts play a key role in these kinds of research, inasmuch as they facilitate finely tuned chemical reactions, thereby ensuring the lowest possible expenditure of energy and materials.

Today, “customized” molecules and materials of various magnitudes serve as catalysts. This research cluster is not limited to chemists synthesizing and characterizing such catalysts; they are also considering time-honored natural methods as well. Microorganisms activate chemical reactions on the basis of certain enzymes, so-called “biocatalysts”, whose functions have been optimized over the course of evolution”. 

This concept comprises three broad areas of interest: development and investigation of catalysts conducted on the basis of classical Chemistry, Biological Science and Material Science. Engineers in various disciplines will implement the research results in terms of industrial applications. In this way, the research cluster combines unique Natural Science expertise with modern methods of Engineering Science – it is anticipated that this cooperation will create significant synergies to facilitate development of new catalytic processes.

Scientists seek to present the results of their research to potential users in the context of demonstration projects or so called “Mini-Plants“, which serve to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of the newly developed methods. On the basis of this novel research concept, natural scientists and engineers at TU Berlin are taking part in the DFG Excellence Competition alongside competent scientists from other Berlin research facilities.

Project partners include:

  • HU Berlin
  • FU Berlin
  • Fritz Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (FHI)
  • Max-Planck-Institut für Kolloid- and Grenzflächenforschung Golm (MPI-KG)
  • University of Potsdam
  • Industrial partners include Bayer-Schering (Leverkusen), Bayer Schering Pharma AG (Berlin/Wuppertal), BASF AG (Ludwigshafen), Südchemie AG (Munich), Uhde GmbH (Dortmund)


Prof. Dr. Matthias Driess
Tel.: +49 (0)30 314-22265


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