New Interface for Catalysis Research


Professor Walter Leitner, chair of technical chemistry and petrochemistry at RWTH, has been named the new director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion.

Peter Winandy

Professor Leitner's research primarily concentrates on the use of carbon dioxide as a raw material at the interface of energy and chemistry. His team is investigating catalytic processes from molecular fundamentals to concepts in reaction engineering for the effective transformation of the CO2 molecule. As of October 1, 2017, Leitner will become the director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, MPI CEC for short, assuming responsiblity for the scientific direction of the "Molecular Catalysis" department. "We are attempting to harvest renewable energy for the value added chain of materials using innovative, chemical processes," says Leitner. "The MPI CEC offers the perfect framework to research fundamental questions in catalyst development, which emerge from this vision."

The appointment of the RWTH professor simultaneously signifies a new intensive collaboration between the Max Planck Instititute and RWTH Aachen. Leitner will continue to lead his chair with a part-time professorship for the next five years. "This collaborative model allows us to effectively shape the flow of information between fundamental research and technical application in both directions and to act as "catalysts" ourselves," explains Leitner. "A new interface between universities and non-university research institutions is thus created for the science landscape in North Rhine-Westphalia.“