In the business unit CHEMISTRY, we are dealing with improving chemical production processes in terms of product properties, efficiency, sustainability and safety. In doing so, we focus on process intensification (PI) as the central strategy for increasing the efficiency and flexibility of processes in process engineering using innovative devices and technologies of micro-process engineering. Our activities are directly related to the Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field RESOURCE EFFICIENCY and CLIMATE TECHNOLOGIES, promote sustainable production and in many cases aim at lower resource consumption and avoidance of by-products and waste products. Based on a well-scalable, modularly designed reactor family or by means of specific, often highly integrated designs, we develop, design and manufacture milli- and microstructured flow reactors and mixers from laboratory to industrial scale, which are optimally adapted to the respective process or application. We cover both, single and multiphase processes as well as non-catalytic and heterogeneously and homogeneously catalyzed reactions. In addition to organic chemistry in general, our research priorities comprise the synthesis of reactive intermediates, electrochemistry, photochemistry as well as the production and characterization of nanoparticles with various properties and possible applications in medicine, pharmacy and the consumer goods industry. By linking with process analysis technologies and new plant concepts, such as the chemical plant infrastructure in container format, we build a bridge to the chemical industry 4.0 and open up decentralized and mobile production approaches.
In the business unit ENERGY we deal with current and future issues concerning the mobile and decentralized provision and storage of electrical energy with a stronger focus on sustainable energy sources. Our activities are directly related to the Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field HYDROGEN TECHNOLOGIES, promote the decarbonization of industry and increasingly aim at CO2 neutrality in processes. We build on a strong fundament, the use of our proven microstructured plate heat exchanger technology, a portfolio of highly active, long-term stable and robust catalysts as well as established manufacturing technologies, which also allow the realization of larger quantities. The development work covers the entire technology chain in the areas of system design, process simulation, catalyst development, durability tests, reactor design, development of cost-effective manufacturing technologies, system control, system integration and system testing. In addition to the development of individual components and complete reformer systems for hydrogen production for all types of fuel cells from conventional and renewable fuels, the research focuses on exhaust gas purification, power-to-gas, methanation, heating/cooling management and biofuel synthesis as well as the use of ammonia as an energy carrier.
In the DIAGNOSTICS business area, we focus on processes and methods that open up new ways and time scales in making diagnostic information and data available to individual patients at the point-of-use or point-of-care. In doing so, we focus on the development of previously unused diagnostic parameters for routine medical care and/or the creation of new, flexible access points for the provision of established parameters as well as the determination of individual characteristics of certain diagnostic information on a scale that has not yet been established as standard. Our activities fit directly into the Fraunhofer strategic research field DIGITAL HEALTHCARE, enhance cost-intelligent diagnostics and therapy, and increasingly take into account automation, digitalization, and a link to artificial intelligence. As one of the pioneers of microfluidics, we rely on a "microfluidic construction kit" for the development of fully integrated and automated microfluidic analytical systems with comprehensive coverage of the required functional elements. This includes successful assay modification and their microfluidic integration. Thus, we are able to develop an application idea to the proof of function and build fully functional and economic demonstrators up to pilot series within short time. We attach particular importance to optimal manageability and unrestricted usability in terms of future use as well as compatibility with relevant manufacturing methods. In addition to cancer diagnostics and liquid biopsy, infection diagnostics, pandemic prevention and antibiotic resistance, our work focuses on bioanalytics for industrial media and food safety.