Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 1 | 5. Januar 2021

Priority Programme “Catalysts and Reactors under Dynamic Conditions for Energy Storage and Conversion” (SPP 2080)

In 2017, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Catalysts and Reactors under Dynamic Conditions for Energy Storage and Conversion” (SPP 2080). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

The fluctuating availability of renewable energies such as wind and solar power represents one of the greatest challenges in the context of the energy transition. Electricity generated on windy and sunny days can be stored in the form of chemical energy carriers such as hydrogen or hydrocarbons. This requires the use of catalysts, reactors and electrochemical cells under externally controlled dynamic reaction conditions. This is where this Priority Programme steps in. Applied to current questions of energy transition, a basic understanding of microscopic processes on solid catalysts under dynamic conditions and their effects on activity, selectivity and stability will be developed. The interdisciplinary research programme is located in chemical technology and chemical reaction engineering, and is explicitly open to other areas of chemistry, physics or materials science that contribute to the topic.

In interdisciplinary consortia, fundamental and methodological challenges of dynamic operation are examined in five closely connected subject areas:

  • characterisation using “operando” methods, i.e. under reaction conditions in order to understand solid catalysts “at work” under dynamic conditions
  • predictive theoretical description of active phases forming under dynamic reaction conditions and elementary steps occurring on the catalyst
  • kinetics and multiscale modelling including atomic information to understand the behaviour of catalysts and electrodes under technical and dynamic conditions
  • targeted materials design to stabilise catalytically active surface structures and to examine them under periodic reaction management
  • novel reactor and electrolyser concepts for methodical investigations under transient conditions

The investigation of solid catalysts under dynamic, externally triggered, conditions is to be focused in this Priority Programme on reactions that are relevant for energy storage and conversion. These include in particular the electrocatalytic conversion of H2O and/or CO2 as well as the catalytic synthesis of small storage molecules such as methane, hydrocarbons, alcohols or ammonia (see also the link below to the Priority Programme’s website). Characteristic for all examined systems is that the dynamics are systematically imposed from the outside in the time domain between seconds and days, either because the applied dynamics can only be avoided with great effort (e.g. fluctuating supply of electrical energy), or because justified advantages for space-time yields or selectivities of the catalytic reactions are expected from the dynamic operation. The expected increase of knowledge is also interesting for other areas such as exhaust gas catalysis, selective oxidations, fuel cells, or photocatalysis. However, these applications, as well as purely physico-chemical studies and purely applied approaches, are not in the focus of this programme.

One of the first aims in the Priority Programme has been the investigation by temporally and spatially resolved in-situ analysis under operating conditions and the deepening of the understanding through theoretical studies and kinetic modelling at the microscopic and macroscopic levels. In parallel, concepts for targeted catalyst and reactor design have to be developed. These initially include technically relevant model systems to support and verify the spectroscopic and theoretical work and, now in the second funding period, will enable the predictability and targeted control of the processes taking place at the catalysts and in the reactors. In addition, the potential of the catalysts beyond stationary operating points is to be explored and higher time-averaged yields are to be obtained by using temporal changes. Transient kinetic measurements and corresponding model simulations will also make it possible to build a bridge from the (electro)catalyst to the reactor. Systematic studies of the dynamic operating behaviour of the catalyst in the reactor using suitable model reactors or models allow a multi-scale analysis and knowledge-based modification of the catalyst/reactor system and its operating conditions. Ultimately, the goal is to understand the fundamental aspects of catalyst aging, which may be accelerated under dynamic operation. Based on this knowledge, concepts can be developed to avoid aging in a targeted manner and to open up strategies for optimal dynamic operation modes.

In this second period, apart from the development of methods and application of a fundamental understanding of the behaviour of (electro)catalysts in dynamic operation the use of the methods to develop knowledge-based new catalysts and concepts for dynamically operated reactors come into focus. Note that the consideration of more applied research topics does not include the development of new reactor technologies for the technical realisation as they are part of other funding lines.

In order to gain knowledge as part of the Priority Programme, a close subject area-related and methodical interlinking of the sub-areas of spectroscopy, molecular and kinetic modelling, catalytic material systems, and reactor concepts is an essential prerequisite. The interdisciplinary and cross-location collaboration is an essential feature of this programme and research proposals should include collaborations between groups from two to three different sub-areas to support systematic knowledge transfer between the disciplines. An exception can be made to early career researchers who submit a single-author proposal but interlink their work directly with other consortia.

For organisational reasons all those considering to submit an application are kindly requested to send an outline of their proposal for the second three-year funding period in electronic form (pdf-file) to the coordinator by 8 March 2021. The outline, with a maximum length of two pages, should contain a short description of the project, information about the principle investigators of the consortium, an assignment to at least two of the five research areas, and information about the applicants.
Early-career researchers wishing to submit a proposal for the programme or related areas are offered a one-day online networking workshop on 5 February 2021. The workshop will provide an insight into a successful DFG-proposal within the Priority Programme and DFG-proposals in general with speakers from DFG, experienced scientists and the SPP 2080. Apply by email to the coordinator, if you are interested.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 15 June 2021. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 1 June 2021 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2080” from the current list of calls. Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal. In addition to submitting your proposal via elan, please send an electronic copy to the programme coordinator.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt
    Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
    Institut für Technische Chemie und Polymerchemie
    Engesserstr. 20
    76131 Karlsruhe
    phone +49 721 608 42120

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact:

Administrative contact: