Research on Catalysts Coking Highlighted in the Annual Review 2021/22 of the Diamond Light Source

The recently published study of the X-ray microscopy group of Dr. Thomas Sheppard on revealing the location of coke species in single catalysts grains was highlighted in the Annual Review 2021/22 of the Diamond Light Source. The research performed by Sebastian Weber and co-authors was originally published as “Hard X-Ray Nanotomography for 3D Analysis of Coking in Nickel-Based Catalysts” in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. The study showcases the emerging possibility of Ptychographic X-ray Computed Tomography (PXCT) – a modern X-ray nanotomography method – to locate coke species relevant for catalyst deactivation in single catalyst grains. The Diamond Light Source highlights in its Annual Review a selected research result for each of its beamlines.

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KIT researchers watch catalysts at work at the synchrotron

Next-generation catalysts play a key role for the use of sustainable fuels in aviation. Improving such catalysts is the goal of the German-South African consortium CARE-O-SENE, in which KIT is involved. In May 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the start of the project in Johannesburg. The international catalysis company Sasol and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) are coordinating the project, which is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).  The goal is to accelerate the economic production of green kerosene based on Fischer-Tropsch technology. A total of six institutions from Germany and South Africa are involved in CARE-O-SENE. In addition to Sasol, HZB, and KIT, these are the University of Cape Town, with which KIT cooperates closely, Ineratec GmbH, a KIT spin-off, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems. KIT researchers will investigate the structural change of catalysts at the KIT synchrotron radiation source and at other X-ray radiation sources, supported by theoretical modeling and sustainability calculations.

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Grunwaldt group at "Jahrestreffen Deutscher Katalytiker"

The Grunwaldt group had a productive and successful trip to "Jahrestreffen Deutscher Katalytiker" in Weimar with talks and posters. Besides inspiring discussions, multiple group members were awarded prizes for their contributions. Congratulations to Mariam Schulte for a poster prize, Linda Klag for a poster workshop award and Erisa Saraci for the "Roter Löwe"!

Università degli Studi di PadovaDIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE CHIMICHE
PhD course on synchrotron applications in heterogeneous catalysis in Padova

Prof. Grunwaldt was invited as visiting professor to the university in Padova. He gave a course for PhD and Postdoc students on the applications of synchrotron radiation under dynamic/operando conditions in heterogeneous catalysis. The course led to interesting discussions and we are looking forward to further collaborations.

 Dr. Ziliang Chen/HZBDr. Ziliang Chen/HZB
Synchrotron research for energy transition and independence

Synchrotron radiation shows us how materials are built up and how they work - also materials that we need to become less dependent on fossil fuels, for example materials in solar cells, in batteries and in the production of green hydrogen. What influences the climate and how can we counteract climate change and cope with the consequences? Society must deal with these three central problems of climate change (physical science basis, mitigation, adaptation according to the IPCC), and research with synchrotron radiation makes a valuable contribution to this. Important research fields are e.g. Photovoltaics, Batteries, Catalysis, Hydrogen storage and Understanding climate change. More information can be found at idw and the SNI-portal. The KFS is an elected representative of the more than 4000 users of synchrotron radiation sources in Germany and at international institutions with German participation.

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Production of green hydrogen observed under dynamic conditions

By the combination of several methods it was possible for the first time to investigate the water splitting reaction at high overpotentials despite the strong bubble evolution. By analyzing PCA of XAS spectra of uncalcined IrO2 during the oxygen evolution reaction, we identified components that can be attributed to two reaction modes, the Absorbate Evolution Mechanism and the Lattice Oxygen Mechanism. Furthermore, we observed partially irreversible formation of metal like Ir-Ir distances of surface layers by removal of oxygen as terminal side reaction under cycling to high potentials (≥1.55V).

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Spatially-resolved insights into local activity and structure of Ni-based CO2 methanation catalysts in fixed-bed reactors

The catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 is a promising way to store large amounts of renewable energy while reducing CO2 emissions (P2X concept). Marc-André Serrer (IKFT), Matthias Stehle (ITCP) and further colleagues at IKFT, ITCP and IAM-AWP uncovered the reaction progress along a conventional Ni-based and an advanced Ni-Fe-based catalyst during CO2 methanation in a fixed-bed reactor. By using a dedicated new setup, they were able to reveal changes in activity, selectivity, and temperature along the catalyst bed. Complementary spatially resolved structural investigations by X-ray absorption spectroscopy showed that the oxidation state of Fe is strongly influenced by the increasing amount of water towards the end of the catalyst bed. Furthermore, infrared spectroscopy unraveled that Fe species promote the higher activity of the bimetallic catalyst by protecting active Ni0 centers from strongly adsorbed CO. Hence, this example underlines not only the importance to consider gradients in chemical reactors but that they even can be exploited for better understanding.

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Collaborative Research Centre TrackAct started at KIT

Just now the Collaborative Research Centre 1441 TrackAct (Tracking the Active Site in Heterogeneous Catalysis for Emission Control) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has started. Catalysis is at the core of the initiative that is conducted together with partners in Munich and the synchrotron radiation source in Hamburg. Within this program, we thus seek for PhD candidates in various fields from Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Sciences to Physics, for more information see here:

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Johannes BecherJohannes Becher
Article in Nature Catalysis

Chemical gradients in automotive Cu-SSZ-13 catalysts for NOx removal revealed by operando X-ray spectrotomography

Gradients in the copper oxidation state and coordination environment of Cu-SSZ-13 catalyst were observed using XANES tomography. For this purpose, a newly developed setup was used that allows XANES tomography to be performed under realistic (operando) conditions. The interplay of adsorption-desorption processes and mass transfer effects was analysed with micrometre resolution in 3D.

Florian MaurerFlorian Maurer
Article in Nature Catalysis

Tracking the formation, fate and consequence for catalytic activity of Pt single sites on ceria

The location of platinum single sites on ceria and the variation of the active state were investigated in an operando approach while combining different methods like in situ infrared spectroscopy, operando high-energy-resolution fluorescence detected X-ray absorption spectroscopy, catalytic CO oxidation and density functional theory calculations.

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Virutal Workshop with Prof. Dr. Soldatov (SFedU, Rostov-on-Don, RU)

On October 7th, the groups of Prof. Dr. Grunwaldt (KIT, Karlsruhe, DE) and Prof. Dr. Soldatov (SFedU, Rostov-on-Don, RU) held a joint virtual workshop on Hard X-ray Spectroscopy and Advanced Data Analysis for Catalysis. The workshop brought together over 50 scholars from Germany – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Russia – The Smart Materials Research Institute at the Southern Federal University. The talks were devoted to the infrastructure and experimental research highlights from KIT as well as the advances of SFedU in the areas of machine learning, big data analysis and prediction of X-ray absorption spectra for catalytically active materials.

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10 years at KIT now

The AK Grunwaldt has started on February 1, 2010, in Karlsruhe!

10 years Karlsruhe in 2020! Unfortunately, an "on-site" celebration is currently not possible, but an online meeting is planned.




 Daria Gashnikova
Kékulé Scholarship

Daria Gashnikova has received a scholarship for her PhD work. Congratulations! She will work in the currently highly relevant field of emission control of stoichiometrically operated natural gas engines with a focus on the removal of NOx. Good luck!

Summer Semester 2020 and winter semester 2020/21

The lectures could be performed succesfully online during the summer semester 2020. The courses in the upcomming winter semester will probably be also online. The following courses will take place in the next semester: Chemische Technik: Katalyse, Aktuelle Konzepte in der Heterogenen Katalyse as well as lectures to synchrotron methods, emission control as well as chemical energy storage/energy transition. More information on the homepage of the institute.

BackCover_React.Chem.&Eng.E.Saraci, M. Serrer, J.-D. Grunwaldt
Cover Article in Reaction Chemistry & Engineering

Showcasing research from Professor Grunwaldt and colleagues at the ITCP, IKFT and IMVT at KIT:

Bridging the gap between industry and synchrotron: an operando study at 30 bar over 300 h during Fischer–Tropsch synthesis.

We design new infrastructure for operando high-pressure synchrotron experiments. High structural stability of a Fischer-Tropsch catalyst was found during a long-term study under industrial conditions while producing synthetic fuels.

Dr. Thomas Sheppard_KIT-YIN
New KIT Young Investigator Group

Dr. Thomas Sheppard from ITCP was officially recognised as leader of a new KIT Young Investigator GroupX-ray Microscopy in Catalysis (2020-2022).

Graphical AbstractJ. Synchrotron Radiation
Cover Article in Journal of Synchrotron Radiation

On the cover of Journal of Synchrotron Radiation - scientists from DESY (Hamburg) and ITCP-KIT demonstrate a deep learning algorithm for X-ray tomography reconstruction, which is particularly useful for in situ and operando sample environments.

Xiaogang Yang, Maik Kahnt, Dennis Brückner, Andreas Schropp, Yakub Fam, Johannes Becher, Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt, Thomas L. Sheppard, Christian G. Schroer, Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 2020.

SPP2080 LogoSPP2080
SPP2080 Kick-Off-Meeting

The Kick-Off-Meeting of the DFG priority program SPP2080 "Catlysts and reactors under dynamic conditions for energy storage and conversion" was held at KIT. Here you can find KIT's official press information.

XRM model catalyst highlightXRM of model catalyst highlight
Highlighted publication on X-ray tomography

A recent publication on X-ray nanotomography of a model catalyst material was announced as a research highlight by the ‘Paul Scherrer Institut’ (Switzerland), where the work was carried out. For further info check out the link.

Y. Fam, T. L. Sheppard, A. Diaz, T. Scherer, M. Holler, W. Wang, D. Wang, P. Brenner, A. Wittstock, J.-D. Grunwaldt, ChemCatChem 2018, 10, 2858 –2867

Oxidation of HMF
Noble metal catalysts for the synthesis of bio-monomers

Novel gold- and silver-based catalysts have been used for the synthesis of potential monomers for sustainable plastics via oxidation of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural, an important platform molecule produced from biomass. The catalysts showed distinct selectivities in the oxidation of different functional groups, which made the targeted synthesis of interesting monomers possible.

O. R. Schade, K. F. Kalz, D. Neukum, W. Kleist, J.-D. Grunwaldt, Green Chem., 2018, DOI: 10.1039/C8GC01340C

Graphical Abstract H2O2 Synthesis
Palladium catalyst for hydrogen peroxide synthesis

Research work from ITCP, IKFT, and IMVT was highlighted in Chemical & Engineering News. By looking at a palladium catalyst while it converts hydrogen and oxygen to hydrogen peroxide, researchers have uncovered that α-palladium hydride nanoparticles were responsible for the selective hydrogenation of oxygen to hydrogen peroxide. “This is a very interesting study as it probes the nature of a palladium catalyst under operating conditions and clearly shows the potential role of various palladium hydrides in this challenging reaction,” says Graham J. Hutchings from Cardiff University.

Selinsek, M.; Deschner, B. J.; Doronkin, D. E.; Sheppard, T. L.; Grunwaldt, J.-D.; Dittmeyer, R. ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 2546-2557

Appointments and Awards

PD Dr. Wolfgang Kleist has been appointed Professor for Technical Chemistry at the Ruhr University Bochum. Congratulations!

Johannes Bitzer, Deniz Zengel and Florian Maurer have received scholarships for their PhD works. Congratulations!

Open PhD and Postdoc-Positions

Do not hesitate to write us if you are interested in catalysis, biomass conversion, spectroscopy, or solid state chemistry.


January 2022

Job Opening Scientist and Project Manager (f/m/d) in
Chemistry / Chemical / Engineering / Physics vacancy number: 2015/2022



October 2020

Virtual meeting with Prof. Dr. Soldatov (SFedU, Rostov-on-Don, RU)

On October 7th, the groups of Prof. Dr. Grunwaldt (KIT, Karlsruhe, DE) and Prof. Dr. Soldatov (SFedU, Rostov-on-Don, RU) held a joint virtual workshop on Hard X-ray Spectroscopy and Advanced Data Analysis for Catalysis. The workshop brought together over 50 scholars from Germany – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and Russia – The Smart Materials Research Institute at the Southern Federal University. The talks were devoted to the infrastructure and experimental research highlights from KIT as well as the advances of SFedU in the areas of machine learning, big data analysis and prediction of X-ray absorption spectra for catalytically active materials. After the workshop, a group leader meeting took place to recapitulate on the synergism in the research portfolios and discuss plans for a future collaboration in applying advanced measurement and analysis techniques to understand industrially relevant catalytic materials and processes.

Short overview of the held talks:

  • 14:00 Short introductions of the respective groups (Prof. Dr. J.-D. Grunwaldt, KIT and Prof. Dr. A. Soldatov, SFedU)

  • 14:15 XAS modelling and analysis to identify structure and nuclearity of Cu species in zeolite catalysts (Ilia Pankin, SFedU)

I. Pankin presented theoretical and experimental evaluation of the structure and stability of various Cu species in several zeolite structures used for methane-to-methanol, methanol-to-olefins, and selective catalytic reduction of NOx.

  • 14:45 Machine Learning for XANES Analysis of Palladium Nanocatalysts (Oleg Usoltsev, SFedU)

O. Usoltsev reported on the progress of his PhD work on the application of machine learning for modelling and analysis of XANES spectra of palladium nanoparticles and the corresponding hydrides and carbides formed in various catalytic processes.

  • 15:15 Actual challenges and emerging techniques to study heterogeneous catalysts (Dmitry Doronkin, KIT)

The presentation of D. Doronkin outlined current trends in operando catalytic studies performed under industrially relevant conditions at various timescales using hard X-ray spectroscopy and complementary techniques.

  • 15:45 Hard X-ray imaging and tomography studies of heterogeneous catalysts (Thomas Sheppard, KIT)

In his talk T. Sheppard summarised the recent developments in X-ray imaging and tomography of structured catalytic materials with highlights on high resolution imaging at <20 nm, and operando spectrotomography of automotive catalysts.

Karlsruhe and Rostov-on-Don, 09.10.2020



Dynamic structural behavior of particles in exhaust gas catalysts

A dynamic structural behavior of Pt nanoparticles on the ceria surface under reducing/oxidizing conditions was found at moderate temperatures and exploited to enhance the catalytic activity of Pt/CeO2-based exhaust gas catalysts.

Gänzler, A.M.; Casapu, M.; Vernoux, P.; Loridant, S.; Cadete Santos Aires, F.J., Epicier, T.; Betz, B.; Hoyer, R.; Grunwaldt, J.-D. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 13078-13082.


Catalysis Science & Technology - Cover Article

Pt-based diesel oxidation catalysts were exposed to rapid transient temperature conditions based on a realistic driving cycle. A microreactor setup was used for rapid heating/cooling coupled to operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy and on-line mass spectrometry. Major differences in catalyst structure and performance were observed under transient conditions compared to model studies.

Benzi, F.; Sheppard, T.L.; Doronkin, D.E.; Meira, D.M.; Gänzler, A.M.; Baier, S.; Grunwaldt, J.-D. Catal. Sci. Technol. 2017, 7, 3999-4006.


CAT-ACT opening workshop

On 20. and 21. September 2017 a two day workshop dedicated to the inauguration of KIT´s new beamline for catalysis and actinide research (CAT-ACT) was taking place in the ANKA seminar room. CAT-ACT is jointly operated by the KIT institues INE (for radionuclide science) and IKFT/ITCP (for catalysis research).


3D X-ray tomography

Cutting-edge synchrotron X-ray tomography was applied to image catalysts at work. The structure of a core@shell catalyst for direct synthesis of dimethyl ether (DME) was detailed in 3D, in situ and simultaneously by X-ray diffraction, fluorescence and absorption tomography; revealing important information about catalyst structure and function which is unavailable using conventional methods.

Sheppard, T.L.; Price, S.W.T.; Benzi, F.; Baier, S.; Klumpp, M.; Dittmeyer, R.; Schwieger, W.; Grunwaldt, J.-D. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 7855-7863.



Priority Program SPP2080

The DFG establishes the priority program "Catalysts and Reactions under Dynamic Operation Conditions for Energy Storage and Conversion" (SPP 2080). Coordinator of the SPP 2080 is Prof. Dr. Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt.


First EXAFS spectra at CAT-ACT and in situ XAS spectra at PETRA III extension

The first in situ XAS spectra were recorded in October 2015 at the PETRA III extension / Hamburg on two catalysts and the first EXAFS spectra on exhaust gas catalysts at the Pt L3-edge in december 2015 at CAT-ACT!

Link to CAT-ACT

Link to P65 at PETRA III extension


August 2015

Successful X-ray absorption spectroscopy conference in Karlsruhe with more than 550 participants.

Sino-German Workshop on "In situ Spectroscopy on Catalysts and Membranes"
28 - 29 August 2015


Juli 2015

Einblicke in Abgaskatalysatoren: Zu unserer gemeinsamen Veröffentlichung in Chem Commun gibt es jetzt eine Presseinformation, die den Nutzen und unsere Ergebnisse zur Forschung mit XAS/XES für ein breites Publikum leicht verständlich darstellt:

Februar 2015

Neuer Blockkurs: Technologien und Ressourcen für erneuerbare Energien: Von Wind und Solar zu chemischen Energieträgern“ in der Woche vom 23. – 27. Februar 2015

Nähere Informationen:

Workshop "Catalysis meets Sensing"

am 6.2.2015


September 2014

We are looking for an analytical chemist or chemical engineer for our Institute of Catalysis Research and Technology. Please take a look at the job offer for further information.

Hans-Dinger-Preis 2014 Dipl.-Chem. Paul Sprenger und Dipl.-Chem. Andreas Gremminger, beide Doktoranden in den Arbeitskreisen von Prof. Grunwaldt und Prof. Deutschmann am Institut für Technische Chemie und Polymerchemie, wurde für ihre Diplomarbeiten mit dem Hans-Dinger-Preis der Forschungsvereinigung Verbrennungskraftmaschinen ausgezeichnet.“ Pressemitteilung


March 2014

Prof. Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt wird Mitglied der "Kommission der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Katalyse (GeCatS)" und für das "Kommittee für Synchrotronstrahlung" in Deutschland gewählt.


February 2014

Dr. Ying Zhou wird mit einem Humboldt-Stipendium ausgezeichnet.

4 Jahre Karlsruhe!
Der Arbeitskreis feierte 4-jähriges Bestehen in Karlsruhe am 01.02.2014.



Dezember 2014: Wir suchen eine/n Wissenschaftler/in für operando EXAFS und/oder eine Beamlinewissenschaftler/in. Nähere Informationen finden Sie in der Stellenausschreibung .


December 2013

Der Wiggler für die Strahlführung "CAT-ACT" an ANKA trifft ein. FMB-Oxford stellt das Beamline Design für CAT-ACT vor und grünes Licht wird gegeben.



June 2013

Das BMBF fördert die Anträge "ZeitKatMat" (Zusammenarbeit mit Prof. Ronald Frahm und mit Prof. Andreas Jentys) und "Nanoskop" (Zusammenarbeit mit Prof. C.G. Schroer, TU Dresden) zur Ausnutzung neuester Methoden am Synchrotron in der Katalyse.


March 2013

Wilhelm and Else Heraues seminar on „Energy-related catalysis today and tomorrow: From fundamentals to application”


February 2013

The "Chair in Catalysis and Chemical Technology" is now since 3 years lead by Prof. Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt in Karlsruhe!


January 2013

Review Article with Prof. Dunin-Borkowski (Ernst Ruska Centre, Jülich/Achen) and Jakob Wagner (Center of Electron Nanoscopy, DTU, DK) in Chem. Cat.Chem.


August 2012

Start of Activities in NANOMICRO; more information here.


December 2011

Konstantin Hengst and Henning Lichtenberg start as PhD-student and postdoctoral researcher, respectively.


November 2011

Julia Engelke, Regina Weber and Tobias Günther start their diploma work in the fields of synthesis, exhaust gas catalysis and spectroscopy - welcome!


June 2011

Maria Casapu joins our group in the field of exhaust gas catalysis. Link to the exhaust gas centre with Prof. Dr. Olaf Deutschmann and Prof. Dr. Sven Kureti: here 

The virtual institute "In-operando imaging of chemical and biological processes" is supported after a positive presentation in Berlin. One of the aims is the application of in situ microscopy on heterogeneous catalysts. Informations on recent job announcements you can find here.


April/May 2011

Sabrina Conrad, Meike Gotthardt, Roland Schoch in April and Joachim Reimer in May start their diploma work in the fields of spectroscopy, synthesis, exhaust gas catalysis and biomass conversion- welcome.

Martin Schubert joins the group in the field of biomass conversion. Welcome from Switzerland!


March 2011

16.3. - 18.3.2011: German catalysis conference - we hired a bus and go with AK Deutschmann to Weimar! All scientific staff join.


January 2011

Gian Luca and Georg join the group. Welcome!

The Institute for Catalysis Research and Technology (IKFT) at KIT-Campus North is founded. JDG is one of the four members of the extended directory board.


October 2010

Workshop on "Shining synchrotron light on catalysts - Needs and opportunities for the future" (organized by Matthias Bauer, Stefan Mangold (ANKA), Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt) on October 8, 2010, part of the Annual ANKA User Meeting, register here.

PD Dr. Sven Kureti moves to a Chair in Reaction Engineering as full professor to Freiberg. Congratulations!


September 2010

World Congress in Chemistry, 150 years after the first world congress in Karslruhe, 10 participants of our group


June 2010

BMBF accepts 2 proposals "Materials in Action" and "X-ray microscopy on catalysts" at German synchrotron radiation sources (ANKA and PETRA) with start in June 2010.

Our Helmholtz-Kolleg "Energy-related catalysis" is funded with start in October 2010. If you are interested in a master or PhD-thesis, please contact me directly.


February 2010

Start of our group in Karlsruhe.