Kira Ehmann receives DECHEMA Student Award 2020

Award for the young scientist's master thesis

Kira Ehmann, now doctoral researcher at MPI CEC, with the certificate that is part of the DECHEMA Student Award.

Kira Ehmann, now a doctoral researcher in the department Molecular Catalysis of Prof. Walter Leitner in the Multiphase Catalysis group of PD Dr. Andreas Vorholt, was honored by DECHEMA for her master thesis entitled “Development of a reaction system for the hydrohydroxymethylation of linear olefins” which she has also written in this group.

In her master thesis, Kira Ehmann dealt with the realization of an essential sub-step in the production of biomass-based, low-emission fuels and thus focused on a topic that plays an essential role in the energy transition.
To meet the challenges of climate change, solutions are needed for lower-emission drive technologies in transportation. Therefore, the EU project REDIFUEL, in which the MPI CEC and in particular the department 'Molecular Catalysis' of Prof. Walter Leitner is involved, aims at the production of biomass-based fuels that could immediately replace conventional petroleum-based fuels (drop-in fuels). In addition to saving fossil resources, the use of alcohols as an essential fuel component can also minimize harmful emissions.

Kira Ehmann's master thesis addresses this essential aspect of the process and focuses on an important sub-step: the production of the alcohols from linear α-olefins. This requires two reaction steps (hydroformylation followed by hydrogenation). Both reaction steps are usually carried out separately and under different reaction conditions. Carrying out both reactions simultaneously in one reactor, as the young scientist describes in her thesis, could save a considerable amount of energy and resources. The aim of her master thesis was to develop such a reaction system. As a special feature, the homogeneous catalyst used in the reaction involved amine ligands instead of the phosphorus-based ligands which are usually used. Amine ligands are superior to phosphorus-based ligands in price and stability and therefore offer advantages especially for an industrial application.
Kira Ehmann was thus able to contribute a significant step towards further development and optimization in the production of emission-free fuels.

DECHEMA has now honored this outstanding thesis with the DECHEMA Student Award 2020 in the sector 'Technical Chemistry'.
The DECHEMA Student Awards have been presented annually since 1993 to graduates of master's degrees in the fields of technical chemistry, chemical process engineering and biotechnology who have distinguished themselves with outstanding technical achievements through a particularly short and thus efficient course of study. (Source: DECHEMA)

Kira Ehmann is very happy about the award and the appreciation of her work. She would like to thank Prof. Walter Leitner, PD Dr. Andreas Vorholt and Thorsten Rösler for their support and the opportunity to do research at MPI CEC. Her thanks also go to Prof. Liauw at RWTH Aachen University, who was the second examiner for the master thesis.