STROMER - Sustainable Transformation by Electrochemical Reactions
The PhD college of the Research Unit Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology
Rapidly expanding and fluctuating electric power production based on renewable sources creates a need for electricity storage and utilization. This offers unprecedented potential for the utilization of electric energy in environmental and bio-technology. In electrochemical systems electrons are used as a uniform equivalent to monitor, control and drive a wide diversity of different redox processes. Using electrons as process drivers in engineered systems, e.g. to synthesize value-added compounds or to degrade contaminants, fulfills the principles of sustainable chemistry and promises an unrivaled economic advantage.
Electrochemical processes are based on interphases most prominently between electron and ion conductors, i.e. electrodes and electrolytes, and the transport in these conductors. Thus, for electrochemical process functions chemical, physical and biological heterogeneities at different structural and temporal levels play key roles. These heterogeneities can be utilized and steered using electrochemical potentials, e.g. for synthesis, degradation and sensing. Thus, seizing electric power as described above cannot be achieved based on the current state of knowledge or even by utilizing existing technologies.
Perceiving electrical current as reagent for sustainable transformation by electrochemical reactions we develop unifying, applicable concepts for using electrochemical processes and reactors by controlling their inherent heterogeneities at different levels. By joining and strengthening existing capacities of different departments (ANA, ISOBIO, SOMA, TUCHEM, UBZ and UMB) at the UFZ we promote the formation of a leading cluster devoted to the research and application of electrochemical processes in environmental and bio-technologies. In the PhD college STROMER we aim at understanding and controlling electrochemical processes by unraveling and engineering the underlying heterogeneities to steer the process functions. STROMER includes four integrated PhD projects that are linked by the fundamentals of using electrons as universal currency for driving (bio)electrochemical reaction as well as the materials and methods used for their study. Thereby the PhD projects address the following key-questions: