Welcome to POLYCAT

POLYCAT is a large scale integrating collaborative FP7-EU-project with its acronym standing for “Modern polymer-based catalysts and microflow conditions as key elements of innovations in fine chemical synthesis”.

POLYCAT was launched on October 1st 2010 as a 3.5-year project and is funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development with 7 million Euro.

Note: The POLYCAT project ended 31.03.2014. This website mimics the status of the POLYCAT public website at the end of the project. Further project results (especially the public final project summary is accessible via EC Cordis website (


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007-2013] under grant agreement no. CP-IP 246095-2


The POLYCAT Project

The EU-project POLYCAT allies the expertise of 19 industrial and academic partners for the development of novel polymer-supported catalysts. Based on highly reactive nanoparticles these catalysts shall lead to higher selectivity and efficiency in industrial relevant reactions. Furthermore the conjunction between these novel catalytic systems and micro process technology, allowing the precise setting of ideal reaction conditions, shall provide improved production processes for chemical industry. The development work in this project shall lead to a multi-purpose, compact least-cost container-type plant infrastructure, which allows the utilization of the novel and improved production method for the industrial partners. Concomitant to these technical developments, life cycle assessments and cost analyses will be performed in order to ensure the competitiveness and sustainability of POLYCAT-based processes.  


POLYCAT provides an integrated, coherent and holistic approach utilizing novel polymer based nanoparticulate catalysts in pharmaceutical, crop protection and vitamin syntheses in conjunction with the enabling functions of micro process technology and “green” solvents. The discipline bridging approach between fine chemistry, catalysis and engineering will lead to the replacement of a number of chemical or microbiological reaction steps in fine chemical syntheses by catalytic ones using more active, selective and stable nanoparticulate catalysts.

In addition, micro process technology allows testing under almost ideal processing conditions, with much improved heat management, with improved costing, at high data validity, at high process confidence, and with high certainty for scale-out. The industrial applicability is demonstrated by scale-out of the industrial demonstration reactions to the pilot scale. A multi-purpose, container-type plant infrastructure will integrate individual reaction and separation modules in block format, standardised basic logistics, process control, safety installations, and on-line analytics. As guidance before (ex-ante) and during the whole development, holistic life cycle (LCA) and cost analyses will pave directions towards competitiveness and sustainability.

The POLYCAT technologies have potential to reduce the environmental impact by 20% up to orders of magnitude: e.g. reduction of green house gas emissions, acids (SO2 Eq.), nutrients (NOx Eq.), toxic substances (1,4-DCB Eq.) and finite abiotic resources (antimony eq.). With (enantio)selectivity increases up to 25%, solvent reductions of 30-100%, and products cost decreases of about 10%, a midterm impact of 30-110 Mio Euro results.


The chemical market in Europe faces large competition under considerable cost and ecological pressure, since new production capacities with lower cost structure are opened worldwide, raw materials become more costly, energy costs raise, customer demands on product quality increase, and society quests for reducing environmental footprint and industrial safety.

Industrial production must respond to these changing needs. The chemical industry as one of the biggest global players is exceptionally requested to discover innovative ways providing novel sustainable solutions of clean technologies reducing the pollution levels and the consumption of exhaustible resources. But, radical improvements can only be achieved by a complete rethinking of production processes which is meant by process intensification. This includes chemistry itself as well as new reactor configurations and novel process conditions (‘Novel Process Windows’).

Accordingly, prime issues and problems to be solved are here

  • higher eco-efficiency via environmentally benign processes
  • higher resource efficiency by better selectivity to reduce waste and emissions
  • novel synthetic reactions and process windows
  • use of highly selective multifunctional catalysts and alternative solvents

The major goal and breakthrough of the POLYCAT project and thus answer and ‘trouble shooting’ to the above mentioned problem situation is the accomplishment of an integrated, coherent and holistic approach utilizing novel heterogeneous polymer based nanoparticulate catalysts in vitamin, pharmaceutical and crop protection syntheses in conjunction with the enabling functions of microreactor technology and “green” solvents.


“In recent decades, chemical processes have continually improved through a more efficient use of raw materials and energy, enhanced safety and increased productivity, while minimising waste and energy use and reducing waste material. In the next 20 years, these processes will undergo substantial changes thanks to the smart design of the synthetic route itself, micro process technologies, integration and intensification of processes combined with new catalyst concepts and the development of in silico technologies.”

(Final report – High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemical Industry; European Communities, 2009)


POLYCAT addresses these future demands and topics in a holistic way and contributes to each target with innovative and integrative approaches. For this purpose POLYCAT comprises the hand-in-hand development of five central points – catalysis, fabrication, reactors, plants and processes – whereupon the focus will be on catalysis and processes.




Concept in Catalysis and Chemistry

Catalytic Metal Nanoparticles on Nanostructured Polymeric Supports

Within POLYCAT several catalytic systems will be developed which will allow choosing the best catalyst option for the industrial relevant reactions considered in the project (as e.g. hydrogenation, oxidation, cross-coupling and asymmetric or photochemical catalysis). Metal nanoparticles are used to exploit the extremely high surface-to-volume ratio in comparison to bulk metals. Both the growth and stabilization of these metal catalysts are supported by nanostructured polymers which provide also a restricted environment for the catalytic reaction carried out.



Concepts in Engineering

Micro and milli process technologies

Micro and milli process technologies enable a new, revolutionary type of chemical processing in continuous-flow mode. The engineering and design efforts in POLYCAT aim to ensure that these process technologies can release their potential as unique enabling function for testing of and performing catalytic fine-chemical reactions

  • under almost ideal processing conditions
  • with much improved heat management
  • with improved costing
  • at high data validity
  • at high process confidence
  • with chance for process exploration
  • with reduced number of steps
  • with high selectivity and conversion
Process Intensification
This concept provides radically innovative principles in process and equipment design which can be regarded as a real paradigm shift. Process Intensification can result in benefits with regard to process and chain efficiency, capital and operating expenses, quality, waste and process safety.
Novel Process Windows
Micro and milli process technologies enable “Novel Process Windows”, i.e. the use of sets of process parameters unusual or inaccessible for conventional (batch) processing. Costs can be cut down by orders of magnitude via both reduced reaction/operation time and increased selectivity based on this approach. Within POLYCAT optima in reaction rate, resource efficiency, avoidance of waste, and simplified purification will be searched. In terms of eco-efficiency faster and more selective processes will be proposed to reduce the overall emissions. The striking advantage of POLYCAT is that both the chemistry and processing can be taken as input factors for the search of optima in novel process windows.


Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Polymer-based Nanoparticulate Catalysts

  • Advancement of various polymeric supports based on organic and inorganic substrates
  • Immobilization of both catalytic and chiral elements on heterogeneous polymeric supports
  • Characterization of nanocatalysts including their precursors
  • Characterization of catalysts immobilized in microstructured reactors
  • Improving known catalysis technology with more active, selective and nanoparticulate catalysts
  • Better control over the nanoparticle size, their shell functionalization and subsequent immobilisation on the surfaces of microstructured reactors
  • Development and optimization of resulting prototype catalysts for dedicated catalytic reactions in pilot scale

Simulation of Catalysts and Reactions

  • In silico simulations/calculations on structural, conformational and spectroscopic properties of catalyst systems and on reaction kinetics
  • Design and development of new algorithms, calculation protocols and implementations for the simulation of experimental results and geometry optimization procedures
  • Prediction of the nanoparticulate catalyst structure and their behavior in catalytic reactions
  • Phenomenological interpretation of experimental data resulting in new material syntheses and reaction-process routes

Micro Reactor Engineering and Plant Engineering

  • Deposition and insertion of described catalysts in microstructured reactors
  • Engineering of scalable reactors and development of a modular and container-like plant platform

Testing of New Catalyst Systems in Reactions in Batch and Micro Reactors

  • Comprehensive studies of the catalysts on their usability in industry-relevant syntheses and processes
  • Evaluation of the catalysts performance for the optimization of their design

Industrial Demonstration

  • Demonstration of the industrial potential of the new tools developed within the POLYCAT project via field trials

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Cost Analysis

  • Performance of LCA and cost analysis already during process development to provide direction for the best choice of technological options
  • Supporting the progress of green process design by quantification of resulting environmental impacts
  • Increasing the eco-efficiency of the processes designed in the POLYCAT project and communication of their potential to improve the sustainability


Summer School „Catalysis for Sustainability“

POLYCAT contributed successfully to the 2nd International Summer School “Catalysis for Sustainability”.

As measure in its effort to disseminate project results especially to graduate students and researchers, POLYCAT successfully contributed to the 2nd International Summer School “Ca-talysis for Sustainability” which took place in Rolduc Abbey, Kerkrade (The Netherlands) from June 23 – 26, 2013 ( In total nine contributions from the POLYCAT partners FORTH, EPFL, IMM, TU/e, CNRS and HZB have reflected under the heading “Novel Catalysts for Fine Chemical Synthesis” the scientific and technical contents and results of the POLYCAT project. The linkage of the summer school with POLYCAT has been enabled by project partner Prof. Dr. Lioubov Kiwi-Minsker (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)) being member of the Programme Committee of the Summer School. Besides an own POLYCAT session, contributions have also been embedded in the overall agenda of the summer school leading to a beneficial interaction with all participants.

In detail, the following contributions from POLYCAT side have been made:

POLYCAT session with tutorials:

P. Löb (IMM), Innovations in fine chemical Synthesis

S. H. Anastasiadis (FORTH), Metal nanoparticulate catalysts within responsive polymer nanostructures

R. Philippe (CNRS), Structured Catalytic Reactors for Multiphase Fine Chemistry

Oral presentations in “Hybrid Catalysis” PhD students session:

C. Berguerand (EPFL) et al., Maximizing Sustainable Production and Process Intensification: Semihydrogenation of 2-butyn-1,4-diol over Pd/ZnO on a Falling Film Reactor as a case study.

M. A. Frysali (FORTH) et al., Polymer microgels containing metal nanocatalysts immobilized onto organic surfaces.

S. Wunder (HZB) et al., Catalytically active nanoparticles stabilized by spherical polyelectro-lyte brushes.

Poster contributions:

M. Kaliva (FORTH) et al., Metalic nanocatalysts stabilized within pH-sensitive microgel parti-cles

A. Yarulin (EPFL) et al., Liquid-phase alkynol hydrogenation over monodispersed palladium nanoparticles: how to improve selectivity.

Polycat and beyond – plenary lecture:

V. Hessel (TU/e), From chemical intensification in flow to new flow process designs guided by sustainability

Evonik EvoTrainer

POLYCAT consortium member Evonik has released two articles presenting their latest developments on modular-based process plants for chemical synthesis.

Evonik Elements 37 (4/2011) p. 12-17
Evonik Magazine (2/2012) p. 52-56

(both unavailable)

POLYCAT 2nd year reporting


After finalising the second year of the EU-granted project POLYCAT the participating partner groups can look back on a very successful year with a great number of scientific contributions. More than ten publications are available in highly ranked scientific journals whereas 30 conference contributions were provided either as posters or oral presentations and lectures, respectively.

View the full list of scientific contributions (PDF)


The POLYCAT project will be present at ACHEMA 2012 (Frankfurt, Germany, 18.-22.06.2012) by taking part as exhibitor on a joined booth of several EU FP7 projects.

Furthermore, several project partners are additionally present by own stands and/or presentations in the congress program.

The joined booth (Hall 9.2, Stand F68) will be under the lead of DECHEMA and covers the FP7 projects POLYCAT, CoPIRIDE, PILLS, SYNFLOW and F3-FACTORY. All the projects are in the area of chemical production and are dealing with new intensified process and plant concepts for speeding up market penetration, enhancing the product life-cycle and improving sustainable production. POLYCAT will be represented there by posters and selected exhibits stemming from the project works. Furthermore, there is the possibility to meet and discuss with project partners in certain time slots.

Indicative/planned list of presence of POLYCAT partners at FP7 projects ACHEMA booth (status 16.06.; will be continuously updated):

Monday, 18.06.:
12:00 – 15:00 – Dr. Patrick Löb (IMM, POLYCAT Project Coordinator)
16:00 – 18:00 – Prof. Volker Hessel (TU/e, POLYCAT Project Co-Coordinator)

Tuesday, 19.06.:
12:00 – 15:00 - Gabor Szirbik (ThalesNano)
13:00 – 14:00 – Dr. Frank Schael (Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS)

Wednesday, 20.06.:
12:00 – 15:00 - Gabor Szirbik (ThalesNano)
16:00 – 18:00 – Prof. Volker Hessel (TU/e, POLYCAT Project Co-Coordinator)

Thursday, 21.06.:
10:00 – 11:00 – Dr. Marc-Oliver Piepenbrock (Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS)
12:00 – 15:00 – Dr. Thomas Rehm (IMM, POLYCAT Technical Project Manager)

Friday, 22.06:
10:00 – 12:00 - Dr. Patrick Löb (IMM, POLYCAT Project Coordinator)
12:00 – 15:00 – Dr. Thomas Rehm (IMM, POLYCAT Technical Project Manager)

Planned (date not fixed): Prof. Esther Sulman, Tver Technical University

To learn more about the POLYCAT partner organizations beyond POLYCAT please visit the following boot

  • The partner ThalesNano is represented by its distributor in Germany, Axel Semrau GmbH & Co. KG. - Hall 4.2 A36
  • Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz – Hall 9.1 E42
  • Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS – Hall 4.1 N2 and as part of Bayer Technology Services booth – Hall 9.1 E14
  • TU Eindhoven, Chemical Engineering – Hall 9.2 C90

Furthermore, we want to make aware of the following presentation at the ACHEMA congress form the project co-coordinator Prof. V. Hessel (TU Eindhoven, The Netherlands):

  • Microreactors and their three intensification fields - from fine chemistry to particle making (19.06.2012, 14:00, Congress Center (CMF) - Spektrum)

For specific inquiries, please contact Dr. Thomas Rehm (rehm(at)


If you want more information regarding POLYCAT, please send an e-mail with the headline "POLYCAT mailing list" and your contact details to subscribe to the mailing list.

Contact Press / Media

Dr. rer. nat. Patrick Löb

Project Coordinator

Fraunhofer-Institut für Mikrotechnik und Mikrosysteme IMM
Carl-Zeiss-Str. 18-20
55129 Mainz

Phone +49 6131 990-377

Fax +49 6131 990-205

Contact Press / Media

Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Rehm

Technical Project Manager

Fraunhofer-Institut für Mikrotechnik und Mikrosysteme IMM
Carl-Zeiss-Str. 18-20
55129 Mainz

Phone +49 6131 990-195

Fax +49 6131 990-205

Contact Press / Media

Dr. rer. nat. Stefan Kiesewalter


Fraunhofer-Institut für Mikrotechnik und Mikrosysteme IMM
Carl-Zeiss-Str. 18-20
55129 Mainz

Phone +49 6131 990-323

Fax +49 6131 990-205

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