Center for the Transformation of Chemistry (CTC) to become new major research center in the Central German Mining District

Concept initiated by Potsdam's Max Planck Institute wins federal and state competition for 1.25 billion euros in funding

September 29, 2022

The concept for the "Center for the Transformation of Chemistry" (CTC), which will be one of two new large-scale research centers, was selected from nearly 100 ideas in the joint competition "Knowledge Creates Perspectives for the Region!" organized by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Free State of Saxony and the State of Saxony-Anhalt. The aim of the CTC is to transform the previously linear chemical industry into a sustainable circular economy. The idea for the CTC was developed and successfully advanced by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Peter H. Seeberger and Dr. Matthew Plutschack of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces.

Transformation of chemistry

The chemical industry is one of the most important industrial sectors in Germany and is fundamental to the value chains of numerous other economic sectors - chemistry is in 97% of all products. The high dependence of chemistry on fossil sources on the one hand as an energy supplier for manufacturing processes and on the other hand as a raw material base for chemical substances and products makes the existing system vulnerable to crises from price increases and uncertainties in the supply chains. "In order to secure the supply and activity of the entire economy in Germany as a business location, it is urgently necessary to rethink feedstocks, processes and products and to establish the hitherto linear chemical industry, which also produces large amounts of carbon dioxide as well as toxic waste and wastewater, as a resilient circular economy in the long term," says Peter H. Seeberger, director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, explaining the goals of the CTC. He adds, "Cost-effective and sustainable production processes mainly from renewable raw materials or recycled materials, while complying with the highest occupational safety and environmental standards and drastically shortened transport routes, must be ensured."

Without such a transformation of the chemical industry, European climate targets cannot be achieved, economic prosperity could not be maintained and future-proof employment opportunities will not be realized. The simultaneous achievement of climate, economic and employment targets and the preservation of a sustainable industrial location cannot be achieved by treating symptoms, but only through a structured, long-term transformation. "There are approaches in industry and science worldwide in this direction, but no comparable research center. The new large-scale research center will be a globally visible beacon of cutting-edge research and a breeding ground for new companies and spin-offs in the Central German mining region," says Peter H. Seeberger.

Establishment at the Delitzsch site in the Central German Chemistry Triangle

The CTC will be established in Delitzsch, about 20 km north of Leipzig, thus continuing the long tradition in the Halle/Merseburg/Bitterfeld chemistry triangle. Over the next few years, the CTC will be established on the site of the former sugar factory as the first research facility to date in the district of North Saxony. The campus with the new building of the large-scale research center, adjacent residential quarters and its own suburban train connection with links to Leipzig and Halle will allow a new district to grow in Delitzsch. Existing jobs will be secured and new ones created by the CTC and other settlements in Delitzsch and the region will follow.

The establishment and development of the CTC is supported by already more than 100 partners from academia, industry and society locally, in the Central German mining region, in Germany and worldwide. In close, interdisciplinary cooperation, the transformation of chemistry in research and industry will be advanced, but also, for example, new study, training and continuing education programs will be developed.

Shaping structural change after the coal phase-out

The CTC is being set up as part of the joint idea competition "Knowledge creates prospects for the region!" organized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Free State of Saxony and the State of Saxony-Anhalt. Based on the "Structural Strengthening of Coal Regions Act", one large-scale research center each will be established in the Central German coalfield and in Lusatia in Saxony and will receive institutional funding of up to 170 million euros per year. The aim is to shape the structural change in the regions in a future-oriented way after the coal phase-out and to strengthen Germany as a location for science and innovation.


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