Environmental Catalysis

  Katalysatoren und Adsorber

The working group "Environmental Catalysis" develops new catalysts, composites and processes for the removal of problematic pollutants from water. By problematic pollutants, we mean in particular persistent and mobile chemicals that are often beyond the reach of established methods. Catalysts are indispensable tools not only in industry, but also in environmental chemistry, in order to allow chemical reactions to take place quickly and selectively. In contrast to typical industrial processes, the reaction conditions in the environment are dictated by nature and are rather unfavorable for the chemical treatment of contaminated water. One of our tasks is therefore to make the catalytic processes so robust that they can cope with typical environmental pollutant concentrations (i.e. µg/l to mg/l) and with complex water matrices (salts, heavy metal ions, biofilms, humic substances, etc.) and at the same time are environmentally compatible and sustainable. To achieve this, we rely on the coupling of physical processes, such as sorption for pollutant accumulation, and the chemical catalytic destruction of the adsorbed pollutants. The working group is committed to a broader approach from mechanistic process understanding to application proposals.

Research focus

  • The destruction of PFAS and other persistent mobile pollutants as well as complex mixtures of substances in the water matrix (especially groundwater): For this purpose, we are developing new photocatalytic processes and new methods that initiate suitable radical reactions.
  • We are developing sustainable catalysts to meet water quality standards for local water cycles in the context of blue-green urban infrastructures. 
  • Dehalogenation reactions with Pd and Cu catalysts for the destruction of "conventional" halogenated pollutants in water (i.e. halogenated solvents, pesticides, pharmaceutical residues and the like).


Head: Dr. Katrin Mackenzie
Postdoc: Dr. Ahmed Abdelsamad
PhDs: Pengpeng Guo
Sabine Franke (Co-Betreuung)
Xiaoyan Chen (Co-Betreuung)
Xiangyu Ji (Co-Betreuung)
Engineer: Dr. Robert Köhler
Students + HiWi: Lisa-Marie Schäffer
Tim Schreiber
Guest Scientists: Prof. Frank-Dieter Kopinke
Dr. Sarah Sühnholz