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In 2011 the Cluster of Excellence “Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) and the chemical company BASF SE founded the new joint lab BasCat at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). BasCat is dedicated to the development of new catalytic processes for raw material change. The research program promotes the search for alternatives to petroleum, e.g. by using natural gas. The long term goal is to ensure the continued future availability of raw materials for the production of chemicals.
BasCat pursues multidisciplinary approaches to generate the fundamental knowledge needed for developing alternative processes to activate less reactive molecules. The current research program focuses on oxidation catalysis. One example is the oxidative coupling of methane. It has been investigated within UniCat since 2007.
Key for establishing novel processes are long term stable, highly selective and sufficiently active catalysts. All previously proposed empirical and solid state (bulk structure-function relationships) concepts in oxidation catalysis have not had the predictive power to generate new catalysts. Our vision is to develop a rational design concept for catalysts and to accomplish a knowledge-based prediction of catalyst performance through scaling from atomistic to industrial level. This requires new development of methods for catalyst synthesis and characterization, in situ spectroscopy and modeling.
The new joint lab BasCat located in the Eugene Paul Wigner building of TU Berlin is going to use a total of approximately 1,000 m2 of space for laboratory, office and seminar rooms. Construction work for the new lab facilities has started in 2012 and completion is scheduled for June 2014. Within BasCat, 15 scientists (6 postdocs and 9 PhD students) will be doing research. BASF and TU Berlin are putting substantial resources into setting up BasCat. BASF plans to invest up to €6.4 million during the first five years. The total volume amounts to about €13 million.
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