Maurice Belleflamme receives DECHEMA Student Award

The doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion was recognized for his outstanding master's thesis

Maurice Belleflamme receives DECHEMA Student Award

Each year, DECHEMA, the expert network for chemical engineering and biotechnology in Germany, honors up to ten outstanding master's theses with the Student Award. The criteria for receiving the prize include the implementation of basic knowledge in practice, experimental skill and the interpretation of results. Maurice Belleflamme, a doctoral student in the Multiphase Catalysis group headed by PD Dr. Andreas Vorholt at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (MPI CEC), mastered all of these with flying colors and thus more than earned the award for his master's thesis entitled "Combination of heterogeneous catalyzed Fischer-Tropsch reaction and homogeneous catalyzed reductive hydroformylation". The prize is endowed with 500 euros each. In addition, DECHEMA will cover conference fees and, if applicable, travel expenses for a domestic or virtual DECHEMA event.

Maurice Belleflamme completed his bachelor's and master's degree at RWTH Aachen University from 2015 to 2020. He worked at MPI CEC as a research assistant from March to November 2020 and has been employed there as a PhD student since April 2021. 

"Maurice is an exceptionally determined and motivated scientist. I am very pleased that he was able to win recognition from DECHEMA for his excellent master's thesis and that he received the student award," explains PD Dr. Andreas Vorholt. "With such a great start to his career as a scientist, I am now naturally very excited to see what Maurice will achieve in the future."

About the master's thesis
In today's chemical value chain, long-chain alcohols represent important final and intermediate chemicals. Currently, they are produced in two different processes. In the Fischer-Tropsch process discovered in Mülheim an der Ruhr (1925), olefins are first produced from synthesis gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. These olefins are then converted into the corresponding alcohols in the (reductive) hydroformylation process. Hydroformylation also originated in the Ruhr area (O. Roelen, Oberhausen, 1937).

Although both processes take place industrially under different reaction conditions and different catalysts are used for both reactions, it was nevertheless possible to develop an integrated multi-step reaction system within the scope of the work, which produces higher alcohols from synthesis gas in the same reaction pot. The system is characterized by excellent long-term stability and a very high synthesis gas conversion rate, which is in the industrial range. The alcohol yields of similar integrated processes described in research to date have been far exceeded.

Due to the simple implementation and the very good results, the researched reaction system could form an excellent starting position for large-scale implementation. The work was carried out in close collaboration with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute für Kohlenforschung, who, among other things, provided the required Fischer-Tropsch catalyst. The invention of the reaction system was successfully patented and parts of the work were published in the prestigious journal Angewandte Chemie.

The press release on the DECHEMA Student Award can be found at: