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Structure and Dynamics of Chemical Energy Conversion Systems

June 26, 2020 from 9:00 am10:00 am

Zoom Webinar with Kai Sundmacher
Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of
Complex Technical Systems, Magdeburg, Germany


Power-to-X process technologies enable the conversion of renewable energy (wind, solar) into very useful energy carriers (X) such as hydrogen, methane and methanol. Due to the high conversion efficiency, hydrogen should be preferred as main target molecule. This is the reason why the German government very recently has launched their national green hydrogen strategy. In this context, PEM water electrolysis is one of the key technologies for hydrogen production, still suffering from cost-intensive materials and from catalyst dissolution phenomena occurring under fluctuating operating conditions [1].

Due to an excellent national gas distribution system, synthetic natural gas (SNG) produced by heterogeneously catalyzed methanation of hydrogen with CO2 is an attractive option for storing and transporting renewable energy on larger scale. However, the challenge is to control the strongly exothermic fixed-bed methanation reactors. This can be achieved by advanced cooling strategies [2] and optimal catalyst particle design concepts [3].

Methanol, an attractive liquid chemical and fuel, can be synthesized from different carbon sources including CO2, biogas, natural gas, lignite and coal. In a systematic superstructure based optimization study, we found that one has to carefully analyze the cost-versus-overall emission curve in order to identify the most reasonable combination of feedstock and methanol synthesis process configuration [4].

Finally some general recommendations are given regarding future directions in Power-to-X process research and technology development.

[1] Dam, A. P.; Papakonstantinuou, G.; Sundmacher, K.: On the role of microkinetic network structure in the interplay between oxygen evolution reaction and catalyst dissolution. Scientific Reports (2020), under review.
[2] Bremer, J.; Sundmacher, K.: Operation range extension via hot- spot control for catalytic CO2 methanation reactors. Reaction Chemistry & Engineering 4 (2019) 1019-1037.
[3] Zimmermann, R.; Bremer, J.; Sundmacher, K.: Optimal catalyst particle design for flexible fixed-bed CO2 methanation reactors. Chemical Engineering Journal 387 (2020) Article Number: 123704
[4] Schack, D.; Rihko-Struckmann, L.; Sundmacher, K.: Linear Programming approach for structure optimization of Renewable-to-Chemicals (R2Chem) production networks. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 57 (2018) 9889-9902.



Kai Sundmacher studied mechanical engineering and process engineering at the Universities of Hanover and Clausthal, graduating in 1990 with a degree in process engineering. He received his doctorate from the Institute of Chemical Process Engineering at Clausthal University of Technology in 1995, where he subsequently headed the research groups “Reactive Distillation” and “Electrochemical Reaction Technology”. After a research stay as Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Newcastle, UK, he received his venia legendi in 1998 in the field of “Chemical and Thermal Process Engineering”. In 1999, he was appointed Professor for Process Systems Engineering at the Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg. In 2001 he was appointed Director and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg. Kai Sundmacher has received several awards for his research results, including the Carl-Zerbe Prize of the German Scientific Society for Natural Gas, Petroleum and Coal (1998), the Arnold-Eucken Prize of the Association of German Engineers (1999), the Meyer-Stuckmann Science Prize of the BTU Cottbus (2008), the Einstein Professorship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2009), and the Hoogewerff Lecture Award (2013). Since 2010 he has been visiting professor at the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. Kai Sundmacher is a member of several scientific societies (among others ACS, AIChE, DGMK, ISE, VDI).


For Zoom information please contact dei-info@udel.edu



June 26, 2020
9:00 am — 10:00 am