Katalysatoren für saubere Energie
Gleich zwei Talks der Falling Walls Conference 2011 haben etwas mit Katalysatoren zu tun. Im ersten hat Robert Schlögl vom Fritz Haber Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft uns heute Morgen in die Welt derer mitgenommen, die mittels Katalysatoren endlich schaffen wollen, was die Natur uns so scheinbar leicht dauernd vormacht: Aus Kohlendioxid und Wasser organische Stoffe herstellen. "Die sichersten und besten Energiespeicher", wie Schlögl meint. Im Folgenden mein Cross-Posting von der Konferenz.
Step by Step to the Dream of Renewable Energy
We all know catalysis from our cars. They somehow help reducing toxic gases. But this is not the whole story. What a catalyst really does is reducing the energy needed for certain reactions by offering certain surfaces and reaction places. Can specially designed new catalysts help to replace fossil fuels and take further steps into the era of renewable energy? Robert Schlögl an investigator of heterogeneous catalysts based upon inorganic solids believes so. Advances in catalysis and catalytic processes will play a central role in our ability to provide sufficient supplies of renewable energy.
Schlögl wants to copy the way plants can build organic material such as methanol or sugar by using special catalysts, because he believes organic materials are the best way to store energy. “We have to use catalysts like nature does in photosynthesis. We need high performance systems”, he says. Therefore he and his research team at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society use platinum, which must have steps in its nanostructure wherein the water molecules beautifully fit and lay there. Other steps build the ideal surrounding for carbon dioxide molecules so both can react on the surface into organic materials (the sugar).
By this way and many more efforts Schlögl believes we can reach a substantial change in our energy usage.
0,17% of the earth surface receives all energy needs of mankind – this should be enough.
We can collect solar energy by a combination of physical and chemical technologies.
We need to store large amounts of this energy in chemical bonds because they are the most efficient.
And last not least we have to complete and expand existing knowledge into a fundament of technologies.
“Walls don’t fall. We have to remove them stone by stone”, Schlögl said in the beginning of his speech, showing us a piece of the Berlin wall he removed in November 1989.