DPI/SKT colloquium - "Energy Polymers" by Prof.Dr Markus Antonietti, Max-Planck-Institute

30 August 2007

Polymers and Materials for Energy Applications and the Raw Material Change

DPI/SKT colloquium
December 11, 2007
Venue: TU/e, SKT, 16.00 hrs

Prof. Dr Markus Antonietti , Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Research Campus Golm, D-14424 Potsdam, Germany

Two "megatrends" will change the shape of chemical business in the next 20 years to large extents. One is the hunger of society for more energy, the best in a sustainable fashion, the other the limited availability of oil and gas at sufficiently low prices, which will drive a raw material change for chemical industry. These trends are challenges for chemical sciences, but also offer unparalleled scientific and economic opportunities which are to be taken.

"Energy Materials", i.e. materials for fuel gas storage, fuel cell membranes, improved batteries and ultracapacitors, are presumably solutions closest to classical thinking of polymer and material science. For that, polymer/material properties have however be extended towards extreme regions, such as high temperature stability up to 600 °C, or a chemical robustness to survive 10000 hours in a fuel cell. Interestingly multifunctional, multidimensional polymerization (MMP) can easily provide such structures, as for instance known from the graphitization of polyacrylonitrile.

It is the purpose of the talk to present at least some first trials to more controlled MMP schemes resulting in controlled two- and three-dimensional polymer structures with special performance and functionalities, including new processes such as ionothermal reactions.
A closely related grand-challenge is a potential change of the raw material base, which might switch in 20 years from oil to biomass. Our department translates this tasks into two research goals: i) the development of new catalytic systems which operate in an excess of functional groups (proteins/carbohydrates instead of a rather inert CH-environment); and ii) direct conversion schemes of biomass into useful materials.

I will shortly report on first trials towards a metal free, functionality tolerant catalysis and pathways to make useful carbon nanostructures from biomass sources.