Catalytic Emission Control

"Researching and developing catalytic processes for emission control in the combustion of biomass energy sources to safeguard the essential eco-friendliness of bioenergy."

Prof. Dr. Ingo Hartmann, Head of the research focus area


The primary aim of this focus area is to research into catalytic pollution control on incinerators for gaseous, liquid and solid bioenergy sources on solid-body catalysts. The focus is on catalytic reduction of the incineration emissions methane (CH4), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), semi- and non-volatile hydrocarbons such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PACs) and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDDs/PCDFs), soot particles (black carbon) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). These pollutants can be substantially reduced by catalytic exhaust systems and integrated methods. The aim is to develop catalysts and processes which permit virtually zero-emission incineration of bioenergy sources in line with environmental requirements.


Gaseous, liquid and solid carbon-containing bioenergy sources are almost without exception converted into thermal energy by incineration. Biogas, as well as biodiesel and bioethanol, are used in combustion engines of combined heat and power plants, for example, to apply CHP technologies based on renewable resources in a sustainable way to maximize demand-oriented energy supply. Solid bioenergy sources such as wood pellets and firewood are extensively used nowadays in small-scale furnaces to supply private households with heat (see figure).


In future, the aim is for solid biomass also to be used more widely, and additionally in most distributed micro-CHP plants. When bioenergy source materials are incinerated, ideally all combustible hydrocarbon-containing components are fully oxidized to form CO2 and H2O. Under real practical conditions, however, uncombusted and partially oxidised pollutants are always additionally released in combustion processes. This particularly entails emissions of carbon monoxide in an order of magnitude from 100 to over 1,000 ppm. Depending on the bio-energy source material and the incineration management, methane (CH4), other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as semi- and non-volatile hydrocarbons such as polyaromatic compounds (PACs) and polychlorinated dioxins and furans (PCDDs/PCDFs) and soot (black carbon) are emitted in relevant amounts to produce greenhouse gas effects and/or environmental harm due to toxicity. Moreover, high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions can occur when incinerating bioenergy sources, such as biogas and biodiesel, for motor use as well as in the incineration of so-called alternative solid fuel from residual materials.

The preservation of clean air and sustainability of (solid, liquid and gaseous) bioenergy sources used primarily in incineration demands detailed scientific research taking into consideration practical conditions. To enhance sustainability, in future emissions reduction measures focused on the air pollutants CO, CH4, NOX, PACs and soot particles (black carbon) will thus be researched and also demonstrated under practical conditions. The pollutants cited can be substantially reduced by catalytic exhaust systems and integrated methods. Among others, the example of the three-way catalytic converter on petrol engines can be applied as a reference for the potential pollution-reducing efficacy of catalytic systems.


In the "Catalytic emission control" research focus area, research into lower-cost catalytic converters based on ash from solid biogenic residues without input of noble metals will in future be a key task. It will additionally be driving forward the development of high-temperature stable catalytic converters with hierarchical pore systems in conjunction with research partners including the working group headed by Prof. Dirk Enke at the University of Leipzig.

Another future research topic will be the non-conventional initiation (such as by microwave radiation) of catalytic reactions for pollution control. The pollution control catalytic converters being researched will be developed further and optimized for the different biomass conversion plants. This will entail investigating the optimized integration of the catalytic converters into the incineration plants for pollution control.

Research focus area "Catalytic emission control"

Exhaust gas purification with catalytic converters is already state of the art in various technologies. The development and adaptation of suitable catalysts as well as the process adaptation for processes of biomass utilisation can enable further development in the field of renewable energy from biomass.

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Important reference projects (Selection)

  • Vollkat – Labortechnische Untersuchungen zur Entwicklung eines keramischen Vollkatalysators für Biomassefeuerungen - 1. Phase, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2018, FKZ: 32996/01-24/0
  • Bio-Mini – Verbundvorhaben: Entwicklung einer marktnahen emissionsarmen Biomasse-Kleinstfeuerung für Niedrigenergie- und Passivhäuser; Teilvorhaben 1: Feuerungstechnische Entwicklung (Gesamtkonzept) und Charakterisierung einer Biomasse-Kleinstfeuerung für Niedrigenergie- und Passivhäuser, Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft/Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V., 01.10.2017- 30.09.2019 (FKZ: 22025816)
  • SCRCOAT – Optimierung u. Validierung von Verfahren zur kombinierten Reduktion von Feinstaub u. sauren Schadgasen an Biomassefeuerungen; Teilvorhaben: Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Kombination von SCR-u. Precoatverfahren an einem Gewebefilter, Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie/Projektträger Jülich, 01.09.2017 -31.08.2020 (FKZ: 03KB135A)
  • Kleinmotoren – Entwicklung eines effizienten Abgasbehandlungssystems für Dieselmotoren der Leistungsklasse < 19 kw bei Einsatz kohlenstoffreduzierter Kraftstoffe, Sächsische Aufbaubank, 01.08.2016 - 01.07.2019

Important publications (Selection)

  • König, M., Eisinger, K., Hartmann, I., Müller, M.: Combined removal of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides from the exhaust gas of small-scale biomass combustion, Biomass Conv. Bioref. (2018).
  • Kohler, H.; Ojha, B.; Illyaskutty, N.; Hartmann, I.; Thiel, C.; Eisinger, K.; Dambacher, M. (2018). "In situ high-temperature gas sensors: Continuous monitoring of the combustion quality of different wood combustion systems and optimization of combustion process". Journal of Sensors and Sensor Systems (ISSN: 2194-8771), Vol. 7, Nr. 1. S. 161–167. DOI: 10.5194/jsss-7-161-2018.
  • Hartmann, I.; Günther, S. (2018), “Emission measurement data of a wood log stove with an integrated two-stage catalytic converter module”, Mendeley Data, v1.
  • Grimm, A., Enke, D., Roppertz, A., Hartmann, I., Frieß, M.: „Synthesis of rice husk silica supported base metal catalysts for exhaust gas treatment“ DBFZ Jahrestagung, Poster.
  • Müller, M.; Schenk, J. (2018). Smart Bioenergy: new developments for energetic and integrated material use of biomas. Vortrag gehalten: 4th National Scientific Conference "Renewable Energy Sources: Theory and Practice", Opole (Polen), 10.10.2018