Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems

Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems

A production plant in the chemical or biotechnology industry is as complex as a living being: innumerable components are in operation to produce a product. A large number of processes influence each other and even compete with each other, and it is often not clear why a process works or, more importantly, why it does not. The scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems therefore investigate biological as well as technical processes. Engineers, chemists, physicists, biologists and mathematicians develop mathematical models for this purpose. In the case of technical processes, they try out these models in their own testing plants. They then design suitable controls so that the processes in the plants do not unexpectedly come to a halt or get out of control. The researchers also use their findings as a basis for developing completely new processing concepts that are significantly more efficient.


Sandtorstr. 1
39106 Magdeburg
Phone: +49 391 6110-0
Fax: +49 391 6110-500

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):
IMPRS for Advanced Methods in Process and Systems Engineering

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

Department System Theoretical Fundamentals of Process and Bioprocess Engineering more
Department System and signal oriented Bioprocess Engineering more
Department Physical and Chemical Fundamentals of Process Engineering more
Exploiting Big Data to create innovative materials
Twelve Max Planck Society facilities are bundling their expertise in the data-driven materials sciences more
Zika virus successfully produced in the laboratory
Max Planck scientists fulfil a key requirement for further research on Zika virus and for the production of vaccines more
Vaccines from a reactor

Vaccines from a reactor

News March 01, 2015
In the event of an impending global flu pandemic, vaccine production could quickly reach its limits, as flu vaccines are still largely produced in embryonated chicken eggs. more
Why nerve cells work faster than the theory allows
Scientists from Göttingen and Bochum find evidence for a new mechanism, with which our nerve cells are able to filter signals and transfer them selectively more

Vaccines from a Reactor

1/2015 Material & Technology
In the event of an impending global flu pandemic, vaccine production could quickly reach its limits, as flu vaccines are still largely produced in embryonated chicken eggs. Udo Reichl, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, and his colleagues have therefore been working on a fully automated method for production in cell cultures that could yield vaccines in large quantities in a crisis.

Mathematics in the Borderlands

1/2014 Environment & Climate
Normally, Peter Benner and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg work on complicated numerical methods to optimize the automatic control of technical systems and equipment. Recently, however, their research was applied to resolve a political conflict centering around drug cultivation, herbicide spraying and border violations in South America.
Wood waste and straw contain valuable substances for the chemical industry, and these substances are what chemists from the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg want to get their hands on. The researchers are looking for ways to convert biomass into useful chemical compounds and use them as energy sources or raw materials.
An autopilot for river boats needs to be especially cautious – Ernst Dieter Gilles tailored it to be just so.

Ulrike Krewer

MPR 4 /2008 Material & Technology
When direct methanol fuel cells can fi nally be used as energy sources for a wide range of applications, we will probably have Ulrike Krewer to thank for it.
Some chemical processes behave like good-natured monsters: they can be controlled, but they remain fairly unpredictable
– and that’s why they cost the chemical industry millions.
Doctoral Students or Postdoc Positions
Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Magdeburg November 02, 2017
Master Thesis (Biotechnology / Chemical Engineering / Bioengineering)
Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Magdeburg October 24, 2017

Development of a novel tubular bioreactor for continuous production of influenza virus vaccines

2017 Tapia, Felipe; Genzel, Yvonne; Reichl, Udo
Complex Systems Infection Biology Medicine
An increasing world population and fast spread of old and new influenza virus strains demands more efficient vaccine production methods. One approach is the use of coupled continuous bioreactors. Unfortunately, accumulation of defective interfering particles (DIPs) leads to unstable virus yields. As an alternative we have designed a novel plug-flow tubular bioreactor system, providing high influenza virus titers for up to three weeks in continuous mode using suspension MDCK cells. This novel platform can be used for other viruses and help reduce vaccine manufacturing costs worldwide. more

Iterative solvers for phase field models

2016 Stoll, Martin
Complex Systems Computer Science Material Sciences Mathematics
Phase field models are a crucial tool in the modeling of complex phenomena. In this context, simulation can help to avoid or reduce the number of costly experiments. For this it is necessary to work with efficient algorithms. Here, we describe iterative solvers that deal with the discretized differential equation models and thus allow for an accurate solution of the problems. more

Coupling of continuous reaction and separation processes

2015 Horosanskaia, Elena; Horváth, Zoltán; Lee, Ju Weon; Lorenz, Heike; Seidel-Morgenstern, Andreas
Chemistry Complex Systems
Bulk chemicals are typically produced using processes, which supply the product stream in a continuous manner. In contrast, the production of fine chemical and pharmaceutical ingredients is characterized by batch-wise operation, connected with dead times, fluctuating product qualities and reduced productivity. This contribution summarizes selected results of several research projects devoted to promote continuous production processes. more

Novel computational approaches to elucidate the topology of cellular signaling networks

2014 Klamt, Steffen
Cell Biology Chemistry Complex Systems Structural Biology

Dynamic processes in the cell are triggered and controlled by networks of interacting biomolecules, often comprising tens or hundreds of components. Although a vast amount of players (proteins, genes, metabolites) has been identified, their mutual interactions remain often hidden. Computational methods for reconstructing the topologies of cellular networks from experimental data are therefore a key research area in Systems Biology. The ARB group at the MPI in Magdeburg developed novel algorithms for biological network reconstruction and applied them successfully to realistic problems.


Molecular complexity in chemistry and biology

2013 Stein, Matthias
Cell Biology Chemistry Complex Systems Microbiology Structural Biology
Operations in chemistry and biology are based on complex interactions between molecules. The biological and chemical generation of hydrogen, one of the energy carriers of the future, by enzymes or catalysts at ambient temperature was investigated by applying various computational approaches. Nature-inspired chemical systems are necessary in order to reveal details of the enzymatic system. In molecular systems biology, the focus and the way of investigations shift and enable the understanding of interactions and kinetics of proteins in networks. more

Better understanding of electrochemical processes using dynamics

2013 Krewer, Ulrike
Chemistry Complex Systems Material Sciences
Electrochemical energy systems like fuel cells, batteries and electrolysis cells are attractive for future energy systems as they are highly energy efficient and can follow the dynamic demand of energy or can convert a dynamic oversupply of electricity gained from renewables into chemical energy. A deeper understanding of the complex processes at electrodes and in such cells can be reached when systematically applying dynamic electrochemical analysis methods. In addition, such methods may be used to detect the state of cells and electrodes or even to sense concentrations. more
Model reduction significantly accelerates the computer simulation of dynamical systems. It facilitates or even enables their control and optimization. Thus, model reduction is becoming more and more an indispensable tool in computational sciences and engineering. The mathematical model of the dynamical process is replaced by a compact model. Simulating the compact model is then often sufficient to obtain the quantities of interest of the process. We will give a brief introduction into the model reduction of dynamical systems and illustrate its potential using some engineering applications. more

Targeted drug delivery: Aggregation in particle-cell systems

2011 Rollié, Sascha; Sundmacher, Kai
Chemistry Computer Science
To increase the efficiency of medication, carrier particles could soon deliver pharmaceutical substance exclusively to special target cells in an organism. For an understanding of these targeting processes model-based simulation studies are very helpful. The modeling of the biocolloidal systems is based on foundations from particle technology. Result: Despite substantial scattering of the experimental data, central parameters were identified. It was found that most drug targeting processes are rate limited due to the low receptor concentration on the surface of the target cells. more

Control of fuel cell systems

2010 Mangold, Michael; Kienle, Achim
Chemistry Complex Systems
Fuel cells offer a highly efficient way to generate electrical energy. Therefore they may be an important element in a future energy supply structure. However, the operation and control of fuel cell systems is quite demanding. This contribution illustrates typical challenges for control of fuel cell systems in different power ranges and outlines solution approaches. more
Rehabilitation after stroke requires repetitive exercising of impaired movements to relearn lost motor functions. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) represents one possibility to generate movements in the presence of paresis. Using this method, paretic muscles are activated. This provides efficient stimuli for the central nervous system to enhance motoric facilitation. However, precise movements can only be realized by electrical stimulation if the latter is embedded into a feedback control loop, where the stimulation intensity is permanently adapted depending on the continuously measured state of the movement. more
Discussion on preparedness for a possible influenza pandemic is still ongoing. Authorities and public interest have now accelerated the development of alternative production systems to the classical egg-based production. New disposable bioreactors have been evaluated in the upstream processing group using different analytical tools comparing the influenza virus production with two different mammalian cells. These bioreactors show a potential for fast and simple up-scaling of production capacities in case of a pandemic. more
The differentiation of eukaryotic cells is controled by a complex network of biochemical reactions. Genetically blocked nodes in this network can be reactivated by fusing complementing mutant cells while signaling events proceed. The regulatory structure of the network and the dynamics of the signaling processes can be analysed this way. more

Crystallisation of enantiomers

2006 Elsner, Martin P.; Lorenz, Heike; Seidel-Morgenstern, Andreas
Pure enantiomers are of large interest in the pharmaceutical industry and for the production of fine chemicals. Chemical synthesis is frequently not selective and provides racemic (50:50) mixtures requiring subsequently efficient separation processes. A possible method to solve this difficult separation problem is offered by enantioselective crystallization processes. In the article the application of the so-called "Preferential Crystallisation" technique for resolution of racemates is discussed. more

Dynamics of Population Balance Systems: Particle Precipition in Emulsions

2005 Niemann, Björn; Rauscher, Frank; Voigt, Andreas; Sundmacher, Kai
Chemistry Material Sciences
The liquid phase precipitation of solid particles in emulsion droplets allows the precise control of the particle properties. In particular, narrowly distributed nanoparticles can be synthesized whose size distribution and morphology can be controlled by adjusting the process parameters. more
The dynamic behavior of many chemical processes is governed by travelling temperature and concentration fronts also termed nonlinear waves in Physics and Applied Mathematics. These nonlinear waves provide an easy understanding of the process dynamics and thereby guide the way to improved process operation and control as well as new process concepts. Recent research at the Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg is concerned with an extension of the theoretical fundamentals for combined reaction separation processes. Further, applications for model based measurment and control are investigated. more
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