In the late summer of 2020, I moved to Rostock (Germany) for an exchange stay at the Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse (LIKAT) under the supervision of Prof. Matthias Beller and Dr. Ralf Jackstell. At LIKAT, they recently acquired an experimental plasma-setup, where stable gases such as CO2 can be activated non-catalytically using high voltage electricity. At the group of Prof. Troels Skrydstrup, I worked with homogeneous electrochemical CO2 reduction Therefore, going to Rostock would be an excellent opportunity to get familiar with a different, but still related topic and equipment. At LIKAT, I was tasked to provide proof of principle on the hydrogenation of CO2 to CO using the plasma-setup. Subsequent work would evolve around the utilization of the produced gaseous products in several reactions. During my stay, I managed to optimize different parameters of both the plasma-setup and the plasma‑conditions to obtain CO2 hydrogenation to CO with a high selectivity (minor by-products being CH4 and MeOH). In the same setup, I also investigated the direct splitting of CO2 to CO and O2 and to my delight, this was indeed possible.
Gratifyingly, it was also possible to utilize the produced CO directly in palladium-catalyzed alkoxycarbonylations and rhodium-catalyzed hydroformylations.
Apart from the laboratory work, I had time to visit some of the other group members and enjoy Rostock. In November, I had the pleasure to attend “Die Lichtwoche”, which is a tradition in Rostock, where the November darkness is replaced by colorful lights on several of the city’s buildings, such as the main building of the University of Rostock and Kröpeliner Tor.
Unfortunately, most attractions in Rostock were closed due to COVID-19, thus, I mainly experienced the city from walks and by glancing through windows. However, I managed to go on several trips to explore the countryside outside of Rostock such as the beautiful sand beach Warnemünde and Germanys largest island Rügen. All in all, I really enjoyed my stay in Rostock and I surely appreciated the opportunity to go physically, in times when it was difficult to travel.