Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion

Sun and wind provide more than enough clean energy to cover the requirements of mankind – unfortunately, however, not always where and when it is needed, and often not in a usable form. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion are working on finding ways of storing such energy in chemical compounds. They investigate how energy can be efficiently converted into storable and usable forms, in particular searching for suitable catalysts for the chemical reactions necessary for this process. To this end, researchers use plants as models that directly produce sugar by harnessing the energy of light. But they also want to enhance methods such the electrolysis of water, with which excess electrical energy can be stored.


Stiftstr. 34 - 36
45470 Mülheim an der Ruhr
Phone: +49 208 306-4
Fax: +49 208 306-3951

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS on Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

On the age of computation in the epoch of humankind

We live in a moment of profound transitions, a moment in which the accelerating dynamics of planetary change are becoming ever more perceptible.

A rapid transition of the world’s energy systems

Jürgen Renn, Robert Schlögl, Christoph Rosol and Benjamin Steininger present a research initiative of the Max Planck Society on socio-technical aspects of energy transformation.

Chemistry and Renewable Energy: Generation Gap

Hydrogen could come into its own as back-up storage for the electricity grid.

Solar fuels as generated by nature

Thanks to new insights into the details of photosynthetic water splitting, the prospects for the development of clean fuels based on water and sunlight are improving

A protecting umbrella against oxygen

Toward fuel cells built from renewable and abundant components

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Power-to-X: Catalysis Science at the Interface of Energy and Chemistry

2018 Leitner, Walter

Chemistry Solid State Research

Carbon-based energy carriers and chemical products are indispensable components of a sustainable future. Defossilisation of the production of fuels and chemicals is possible by chemical conversion of carbon dioxide with hydrogen produced from renewable resources. Catalysis is a key technology to enable such “Power-to-X” concepts. New synthetic pathways and novel catalysts are researched at the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion with a focus on fundamental understanding of the underlying complex molecular processes.


The conversion of nitrogen to bioavailable ammonia is a process that is crucial for life on earth. In Nature, the nitrogenase family of enzymes is able to catalyze this conversion under ambient temperatures and pressures. Modifications of the nitrogenase enzyme also allow it to catalyze the reduction of carbon monoxide.


The energy conversion leads to even greater shares of renewable electricity ("green electricity") in the system. Nevertheless, the emission of CO2 is not yet decreasing as expected. The major neglect of the mobility sector is one of the causes. This sector is experiencing one of the greatest upheavals in its history by discussing drive trains. As a possible critical problem solver, chemistry plays a largely passive role, although it will be severely affected by the results of this discussion.


Hydrogen from solar energy: state of research and future prospects

2015 van Gastel, Maurice; Lubitz, Wolfgang; Neese, Frank


How does nature produce hydrogen? Are the natural systems suitable for usage in a future hydrogen economy? Which properties should catalyst materials have in order to be applicable in industrial processes? How do the presently available catalysts function at the molecular level? Do we understand their catalytic mechanism sufficiently well and how can these catalysts be improved? The MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion is dedicated to answering these fundamental questions important for energy conversion and storage. 


In the future, it could be more economical and environmentally friendly to use hydrogen as energy carrier. Many microorganisms are ahead of technology. They use the enzyme hydrogenase that contains abundant metals like iron and nickel, to cycle hydrogen, completely avoiding the use of precious metals like platinum. Learning how these enzymes work has provided scientists with clues to synthesize better semi-artificial hydrogenases and improve the performance of these hydrogenases in the harsh environment of a fuel cell.

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